Fishing & Boating News

Gilchrist Community Association Stands Up Against Eminent Domain Threat


Aerial of Rollover Pass
Photo by unknown
Gilchrist Community Association President Ted Vega said Wednesday that they do not want to shut down the tourist attraction and "want to be left alone."
Photo by James Nielsen, Staff- Houston Chronicle
(Mar. 01, 2013 - Gilchrist, TX)

A treasured coastal area of Texas known for amazing fishing and recreation is in danger of being closed by the state, and the two organizations who own and maintain the area, the Gulf Coast Rod, Reel, and Gun Club and the Gilchrist Community Association, are not planning on idly standing by without making their voice heard. Rollover Pass has brought millions of visitors to Bolivar Peninsula for over 55 years to experience world-class fishing in Texas and now, the Texas General Land Office wants to forcefully close the pass against the wishes of the property owners and countless other Texans who cherish this state treasure.

"Property rights strike directly to the heart of any Texan. It started with our ancestors in the 1800s and we plan to continue to fight today for the land that is rightfully ours," said Gulf Coast Rod, Reel, and Gun Club President, Wayne Stupka in reaction to the Texas General Land Office requesting Galveston County to enact eminent domain to achieve total closure of Rollover Pass on Bolivar Peninsula. The Gulf Coast Rod, Reel, and Gun Club along with the Gilchrist Community Association have joined together to publicly state they do not agree with closure of Rollover Pass, nor the GLO requesting the county to enact eminent domain to take their private property. "It is high time that the bullying from state government stops," Gilchrist Community Association President Ted Vega states. Both groups are consulting with legal counsel and are planning to fight the eminent domain process.

The Gulf Coast Rod, Reel, and Gun Club is the undisputed owner of the tract of land from which Rollover Pass was excavated in 1955 by the predecessor agency of Texas Parks and Wildlife to increase bay water salinity, promote growth of submerged vegetation, and help marine fish to and from spawning and feeding areas in the bay. This agreement gave an easement to the State of Texas to construct and maintain Rollover Pass on land owned by the Gulf Coast Rod, Reel, and Gun Club. The Gulf Coast Rod, Reel, and Gun Club and the Gilchrist Community Association maintains that the State of Texas has no legal right under this easement to decide at this date to close Rollover Pass. As they interpret the easement, the State of Texas may choose to cease to maintain the Pass, but cannot close it for any reason.

These two organizations that own and maintain Rollover Pass are proud of the fact that it does not discriminate against anyone enjoying its bounty regardless of wealth, status, or abilities. "Fishing its' waters, picnicking on the banks, and building family memories have been a long-cherished tradition for Texans," Stupka states. It is handicapped accessible and offers some of the best fishing in the entire state of Texas by connecting the Gulf of Mexico to Rollover and East Bay. Texans flock to Rollover Pass from all corners of our vast state, along with people from many of the United States and regular visitors from Canada and England. The popularity of the Pass itself has helped to substantially contribute to the economy of Gilchrist and the Bolivar Peninsula since the 1950s. Any alternative plans for piers that the General Land Office is currently proposing would not be greater or of more benefit to the general public than the current structure in place.

The Gilchrist Community Association and the Gulf Coast Rod, Reel, and Gun Club have tried to be proactive in finding an agreeable solution with the General Land Office to help maintain and upgrade Rollover Pass, but these requests have been denied repeatedly. The General Land Office had a study conducted in 2002 by Pacific International Engineering LLC. There were five alternatives presented to closing Rollover Pass and the "delta enhancement with reef" stood out as the most feasible and best suited for further consideration. The conceptual costs estimate for this alternative was $1 to $1.445 million dollars, which is substantially less than the $5.8 million estimates being currently offered to close Rollover Pass in addition to the $4 to $6 million dollars that would be required to build a pier, yet they still insist on a complete closure of Rollover Pass instead of finding a suitable alternative that would be beneficial to all parties involved.

The supporters of keeping Rollover Pass open for all question the motivation of those seeking to close the Pass. "Is this an effort to support the rich beach front owners over the current users of the Pass?," Vega asks. "We believe that this condemnation effort - if undertaken - would violate the Texas and United States Constitutions. We believe that this is being done for the good of private property owners at the expense of the public, exactly the opposite of the basis for the use of the power of condemnation. We have had enough."

The Gilchrist Community Association and the Gulf Coast Rod, Reel, and Gun Club are insisting that the General Land Office respect the right of Texas property owners and not impede them from maintaining one of the best public access recreational fishing venue on the Texas coast.

For more information on Rollover Pass or the Gilchrist Community Association, please contact Amanda L. Reynolds at (979) 574-0289 or visit the rolloverpasstexas.website.