What was the ACND’s plan to develop Frandolig Island?
By Friends of the History Center for Aransas County
Frandolig Island, or “happy isle”, was originally owned by Franz Josef Frandolig. It was purchased in the 1870s, and was used for farming fruits, vegetables, and figs. Frandolig also produced wine from a grape vineyard on the island. The wine was sold in barrels to passing boats. Frandolig sold the island in 1900 for $3,500. The island became a marshy overgrown natural habitat and was named “Nine Mile Point”.
As early as 1954, the Aransas County Navigation District had developed a long-range plan, which included Frandolig Island. A bond issue of $415,000 was passed by voters so that Fulton Harbor could be completed, improvements could be made to Rockport Harbor, an industrial harbor at the Cove south of Rockport (which became Cove Harbor) could be developed and facilities in the Little Bay area and on Frandolig Island could be addressed.
In 1955, the ACND considered leasing Frandolig Island to develop the island into a “family type resort” at the cost of approximately $5 million. This initial $5 million cost would be in addition to the leasing costs. At this time, Frandolig Island was the only natural sandy beach in this area. Future planned amenities included a dock for charter and pleasure boats, a golf course, skeet range, teenage yacht club, saltwater pool, and babysitters so that “vacation is painless”, Dad could fish; mom could rest; kids could be entertained.
In this plan, the Navigation District required that there be free public access to and use of the beaches along the island, retention by the District of a portion of the island frontage along Little Bay, work to begin within one year and completed within three years with a minimum expenditure of $3 million to develop a high type of recreation resort that would appeal to many groups. A docking facility for pleasure boats was also to be available.
By June 9, 1956, progress was being noted; dredging of Rockport Harbor had begun, a plan for Cove Harbor was being developed based on the terrain and Frandolig island was purchased by the ACND to protect their investment and prevent the island from falling into “other hands”. Frandolig island was to provide a fourth harbor costing the district nothing due to the planned leases being funded.
As we know now, this plan failed to be implemented, but another concept was on the horizon.
“Key Allegro: A Vision for Growth” will open on Saturday, August 10 at 7 PM. For more information, see www.thehistorycenterforaransascounty.org.