BOLIVAR PENINSULA - By Megan Dillard - It's an attraction on the Bolivar Peninsula that's drawn people to the coast for more than 60 years.
Rollover Pass is at the center of a debate between the state and those who live on the peninsula.
It's been an ongoing battle for years.
The Gilchrist Community Association manages Rollover Pass.
The GCA wants to keep the pass open for fishing.
In 2009, the Texas General Land Office supported a bill to close the pass.
The group says the pass causes erosion along the peninsula.
In its place, the GLO has proposed a one-thousand foot fishing pier, though those plans are still under negotiation.
The GLO is now one step closer to filling in Rollover Pass.
At the beginning of September, the group obtained the necessary permit needed to close the pass.
Today, KFDM spoke with a member of the Gilchrist Community Association, as well as two men who say filling in the pass is not the right answer.
Warren Adams spends plenty of time at Rollover Pass.
It's just a quick ride on a golf cart from his home in Gilchrist.
"My primary concern is what's best for Gilchrist in the long run."
Adams is a member of the community association that's against closing Rollover Pass.
"The primary goal, I'll tell you right now, is still to keep that pass open. What we would like to see happen is maybe the state to come and take over it, and put jetties out, and keep the pass open as a fishing pass."
Even though the GLO has the permit needed to close the pass, Adams says the group must still follow the laws regarding privately-owned land.
"The next move would be the GLO's move to come to us with what they want to do."
Until then, he explains what would happen if this was no longer his view.
"If you were to close this pass off, then all the traffic that's out there that you see right now is gone."
"It's where I learned how to fish."
Accie Booker is nearly 90 years old.
He's been fishing this pier for a long time.
"50 years. Close to that."
Booker says closing the pass would eliminate a lot of history.
"I know a lot folks that are going to be really disappointed if it closes."
"My mother and father fished here every day until they died."
...and new ones.
"I got my grandkids started saltwater fishing right here at the pass."
James Buchanan spends several months fishing the pass each year.
"People would want to keep it open, it's good. (bite, reeling in) Excuse me a minute!"
In between catching fish, he explains why he's against closing the pass.
"It will kill Gilchrist. There's nothing else to bring people here. Gilchrist is a fishing town."
The General Land Office offered this statement to KFDM News.
"The GLO would like to continue to work with the property owners to find a resolution that will benefit everyone in the community."
The GLO did not provide any dates for the group's next steps.
Below is a list of responses sent to KFDM from the Government Land Office Press Secretary, Jim Suydam.
Q) Now that the GLO has obtained the permit needed to close Rollover Pass, what does this mean?
A) It means that the GLO has permission from the U.S. Corps of Engineers to begin work to close the pass to protect the Bolivar Peninsula from further erosion due to the pass.
Q) How does the Corps of Engineers tie into this process?
A) Any costal construction project must be permitted by the U.S. Corps of Engineers.
Q) What is the message from the GLO to the landowners in Gilchrist who say they will fight this with all they have, including going to court?
A) The GLO would like to continue to work with the property owners to find a resolution that will benefit everyone in the community.
Q) What benefits does closing the pass have? What are the benefits to opening a pier in its place?
A) Closing the pass will reduce the rate of erosion that affects the Bolivar Peninsula. Building a pier will help mitigate the loss of recreational fishing that would be lost if the pass closed.
Q) What timeframe are you operating on? If no set dates, can you provide projected dates for the next steps?
A) This has been going on for years now, and there is no time frame or any dates for the next steps. The GLO will work with local officials and the property owners to find a resolution that is beneficial to everyone in the community.
Q) And finally, what are those next steps?
A) Now that the GLO has the permit from the Corps to close the pass, the next steps will be determined by the property owners.
Q) Is the GLO going to present plans / ideas to the GCA?
A) At this time, the GLO has no plans to present any ideas to GCA, but we are always willing and ready to talk about finding some resolution here if we can.