Gilchrist Community Association Stands Up Against Eminent Domain Threat

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.

Rollover Pass in 1956

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.

KDFM News Story: Galveston County will use eminent domain to seize property near Rollover Pass

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.

Texans flock to Rollover Pass from all corners of the state

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.”

Family fun at Rollover Pass

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
www.rolloverpasstexas.com.

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22 Responses to “Gilchrist Community Association Stands Up Against Eminent Domain Threat”

  1. Mac says:

    why GLO has to closed it , built a Jetty can be simply prevent the land lost. I don’t mind pay for fishing down there.
    We living in Dallas, go there fishing sometime, the rollover pass was, is , will be a best fishing spot for many newbi like me who love saltwater fishing. When we saw the news, everyone were shocked, we have bout a group of 50 people been fishing there and we love it, now everyone start worry lose this place…

  2. roberta bullington says:

    Those people that complain about the Cut being “dirty, smelly” , etc, why don’t you get off your butt and organize a cleaning up crew!That’s what the people in the Hill Country do to preserve the rivers and lakes!! I remember my dad, Paul
    Bullington, Charles and Joe Faggard going to great links about this. It’s so important to keep the salinity level up, especially for the estuaries, for fish spawning, baby shrimp and the shore birds. It’s the rich people that now think they own the beach – and money talks these days. Aint that a shame?
    Also a shame that our governor won’t help with this…
    Keep Praying people, keep praying!!
    Roberta Bullington

  3. WHY close down Rollover? Building a jetty would be much more efficient for the landowners of the gulf side and bayside. If they do close Rollover what will that do to the water level on the bayside? Will the East Bay become a dead zone?

  4. Lois says:

    I am with Scott Neville, where the deuces are the good folk & business owners of this peninsula? Why is there no hue and cry from all the water sportsmen who fish the bay? Does anyone who ever ate an oyster from Smith Point still take breath?
    I grew up on the peninsula and love it with my entire heart and soul. I moved away in 1980, due to affordable housing shortages. (Another big problem for the blue collar folk on the peninsula, as I hear.)
    There MUST be some hefty fishing sports group to help press the truth of how the closing of Rollover Pass will negatively affect the bay!!!
    Come on people! Look for a big name sponsor!!

    • Ted says:

      Lois, thank you for standing up, I am going to share with you the actual information on the Rollover Pass Historical marker numbered 7177 which was erected in 1963 it has the reason the pass was made.

      Marker Text: A strait approximately 200 feet wide, 5 feet deep and more than 1,600 feet long across Bolivar Peninsula – was opened in 1955 by the Texas Game and Fish Commission as part of its continuing program to perpetuate and improve the state’s fish and wildlife resources. The commission’s purposes in constructing this pass were to introduce into East Bay sufficient quantities of sea water to increase bay water salinity, and to provide additional opportunity for travel of marine fish to and from spawning and feeding areas in the bay. Lower salinity in East Bay was caused by the discharge of several fresh water streams into the area on the mainland side of the peninsula. This excessive fresh water not only limited the existence of marine fish but also restricted the growth of submerged vegetation, which provides nursery areas and forms the basis of the food cycle for marine life. Creation of Rollover Fish Pass has greatly improved salt water fishing conditions for the thousands of sportsmen who flock to East Bay throughout the year. Known as Rollover long before the Texas Game and fish Commission constructed the fish pass, this site has a history steeped in legend dating back to the days of the Spaniards and continuing through the American prohibition period.

  5. Sam says:

    we need a petition. This should be up to the people of Galveston. I made one on the white house website, but i need 100,000 signatures for it to be addressed. Its a long shot, so please sign it (make an account if you dont have one) and SPREAD IT ON THE WEB ,FACEBOOK, EMAIL etc…
    But we also need a local level petition. Or at least a vote. Here is the link to the petition- http://wh.gov/fnVc
    Please support my contribution to the fight
    Kindest regards…
    Sam

  6. Ted says:

    Thanks for your support, The GCA starting charging a parking fee effective 3/1/13, this is needed to begin the long process of legal fighting that appears to be a reality. Eminent domain against private property violates one of our constitional rights, and something everyone should be concerned about, There is more information at our website http://www.rollovepasstexas.com It is time for people of texas to stand up to the bullying that is being contemplated by Galveston County Judge Mark Henry and General Land Office Commissioner Jerry Patterson.

  7. scott neville says:

    Wether you drive a brand new f250 with the finest motor hame in tow. Or you you drive a 1980 pinto with a sleeping bag and a tint. We all spend money in Bolivar, Highisland, Winnie, and galveston. Then our friends spend money, then our friends friends spend money ect…… It could be a gallon of gas and a pack of smokes and a pound of dead shrimp. or it could be 200 gallons of fuel , weeks stay in a beach cabin, 3 meals at a reasturant, 300 dollars worth of groceries at the Big Store and 100 dollars of junk food and beach supplies at a con vienince store. WE ALL SPEND MONEY!!!! If you build sub divisions to cater to a bunch of “yankees” and up tight people. Do you really think there gonna spend more money. Hell no!!! they are gonna pack there lunches and supplies from home and complain about the heat and the bugs and lack of concrete in bolivar. that what makes Bolivar , Bolivar. Its “wild” . Where else in the state can you pull up to the waters edge in your vehicle. take your wheelchair out or if your not impaired, flip your tailgate down and start fishing. NO WHERE!!!!
    Like I said before. If you want to vacation in concrete and condos. vacation in Florida or Galveston Proper.
    I still cant understand why we havent heard from or any of the influencial business owners in Bolivar have not spoken up and helped fight this. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!!!!! Quit claiming to care about Bolivar and calling yourself “LOCALS” and help keep the history of Rollover Open!!!!

  8. Cory Brandon says:

    I have been fishing the Rollover now for about 7 years. I started fishing there when I worked in Houston and now since I have retired and moved back to the Hill Country that place is still my favorite place to fish. I have so many friends that I have made there. I look forward to going there every chance I can.
    Alot of my hunters from Galveston and surrounding counties have seen me at the Pass before we even met to hunt here in the Hill Country and we hunt together and then we fish together as well.
    I guess that the almighty dollar is more important to the powers that be instead of all the memories and friendships made at the Rollover Pass.
    You want us to be proud of Texas? Well leave the Pass alone, its residents and visitors, its wildlife and quit trying to be a dictatorship and make us proud to be Texans. The government is supposed to work for us the citizens-not the other ways around.

  9. Scott Neville says:

    Its simply black and white. The developers want it close to increase property value. The judges and GLO will side with the developers because they have the money. They will brain wash the public with false studies ect…. Us folks that want it open are just “dumb fishermen and birdwatchers” its david and goliath. no one cares anymore about fish habitat or recreation. Its all about who can make the most money. Its like the gun ban the government is trying to enforce. they claim it will save lives by banning guns. If our government really cared about saving lives, they would ban alcohol. But guess what, alchol pays to well to ban. alcohol kills more people in this nation than guns ever have are would. im not saying ban alcohol. just putting everything into prospective.

    its simple. lets fence the borders of the pass. clean it up, and pay a couple of attendants, and charge a fee and construct picknick tables and even have a year membership fee to those who want to utilize the pass. with the funds generated by that, we could keep the pass clean and mantained. And every one could be happy. property owners and pass visitors could all be happy. very simple

  10. Scott Neville says:

    I grew up in Beaumont and Hamshire. I worked and lived in Crystal Beach pre “IKE” and post “IKE”. I’m 42 years old now. I am an avid fisherman and know the pass as well as the surf and east bay. I am friends with very notorious fishing guides and residents in Crystal Beach, Bolivar, High Island and Gilchrist. I am also friends with the local commersial fishermen, and bait camp owners. My father grew up surfing and fishing the surf and the pass. I now live in College Station Tx. I commute every weekend to the pass or close by. I have talked over and over with every person I have mentioned above, as well as Biologists. As well as just applying common sense. If you were to fill in the pass it would totaly eliminate and affect all life in the surf as well as the bay behind the pass. Salinity levels would rise dramitically. When we have heavy rain and run off from bayous in back of bay, ther would be no where for water to escape. therefore depleating oxygen levels and promoting loss of saltwater marine life. And this excuse of rollover increasing erosion is BS!!!! by not haveing Rollover it would actually icrease beach errosion. You can pad the pockets of the GLO’s contacts, and they will fudge the so called studies. Its all about greed and money. Its simple. No one cares about the marine life or the “working man”. its the society we live in. i am very surprised that The famous reasturant owners on the penninsila and big store owners and all influential people down there are not contributing to the fight to keep it open. It blows my mind. The Bolivar Penninsila is the most unique places in Texas!!! And even the united states. if you want big development and subdivisions and a “non wild” place. Go develope and live in florida or galveston proper. Leave rollover alone and quit making excuses and false studies. I challenge ALL business owners and people of influence and so called “locals” to get off the pot and be a voice in this matter. And quit sitting back and watching. From first glance , people look at rollover and think its all thugs and trash ect… you would be surprised how many walks of life blend at rollover. So “LOCALS” AND BUSINESS OWNERS OF BOLIVAR. GET OFF YOUR ASS AND SPEAK UP AND USE YOUR INFLUENCE TO KEEP IT OPEN!!!!!! If you are atrue “LOCAL” and give two shits. You need to realize that If that pass wasnt there, you land mark businesses wouldnt be where they are today.

  11. Ted says:

    This is something that the EPA would not be involved in, but the Galveston office of the Corp of Engr’s issued the permit to the GLO to close the Pass.

    The Federal Fish & Game Commission did their required study and found that the migration of fish would be impacted, that there was other ways for them to get where they needed to go, and the impact would be minimal. I did talk to the Galveston office that operate the Turtle Program on the Gulf Coast, I stated that there were plenty of turtles observed in the Pass, he said these were juvenial turtle and that they do not travel thru the Pass, and that closing would not effect them either. I think that more effort should be placed on the turtle population, and the effect on East Bay if the Pass is closed. The Pass has been there for almost 60 years now, and from my two years here very close to the Pass I have only seen wildlife in good harmony with the bay and the gulf.

    The use of Eminent Domain against the people of texas is a abuse of a law that violates our constitutional rights as landowner, and their reason is to make the Pass into a Park, Shame on you Jerry Patterson and Judge Mark Henry,

  12. Diana says:

    Has anyone involved checked into whether or not the EPA can/will get involved in this potential disregard for fish migration activity?
    Or, are there any other organizations that may get on board to help fight the good fight?

  13. what it all boils down to unfortunatly is trying to increase adjacent property values. It is very very sad. It is the only place that rich or poor black or white blend together and create wonderful relationships and have great times. its a crying shame that our state and local government is allowing this to even be considered!!! Its all about $$$$. so the developers that have started paving roads and posted signs up for development can benefit. galveston county should of all things stand up for rollover. The pass alone brings revenue to galveston county , gilchrist , crystal beach, highisland and bolivar. wether it be fishermen , birdwatchers, or just sightseers. we all spend money in galveston county. Every business owner from highisland to jamaica beach benefits from rollover one way or another. Its greed and dollars. Every business owner should stand up and join the fight if they are loyal to the history and way of life in bolivar!!! We are living in a dictatorship it seems. we cant let this happen. for many reasons

    • Ted says:

      Very well said, The State of Texas and the County Judge Mark Henry don’t have a clue on the economic impact that arises from visitor who come to the Peninsula, and go to Galveston. Most of the business that I am aware of do know the impact of losing these visitors. This business of the GLO using their power to get the County Judge to use Eminent Domain against the people of Bolivar Peninsula is a terrible abuse of power that the govt. has. I cannot imagine they doing this Eminent Domain to make a park.

  14. Don says:

    Gilchrist resident says: “Is this an effort to support the rich beach front owners over the current users of the Pass?,”
    As I have said before, the vocal folks wanting to keep Rollover Pass open are the bay side folks who don’t care about who gets washed away… until it closes HWY 87.
    Remember the miles of GeoTubes? BIG BUCKS that didn’t work!
    Don’t ruin the prospect of PIERS that GLO is trying to give us by ‘fighting’ until the end!

    • Ted says:

      The Pier and amenities plan that the GLO has offered looks fine on paper,it is a offer that Jerry Patterson had to come up to mitigate the loss of fishing to the community and the fisherman. A pier is something that the majority of families, elderly, handicapped persons cannot benefit from. Pier fishing is just not the same as getting out of a vehicle and get a chance to make a memory or catch the fish of a lifetime.

      • Pat says:

        Heaven forbid you have to walk a little further down a pier to fish. The pier will be ADA compliant. I am one of those homeowners that has seen a number of homes washed away over the last 30 years on the beach side because of the cut. The deterioration increased substantially when the cement breakfront was built. Millions of dollars are spent every year to maintain the intercoastal because of the sand movement to the bay side through the cut. Rollover pass has deteriorated so badly I won’t even take my children/grandchildren there anymore. For many years, long before Ike, it had become a trash dump. There is sharp rusty metal along the sides, it stinks, fisherman leave their food trash, beer cans and fishguts all over so there are also rats! Things need to change, nice, clean, permanent public bathrooms with showers, picnic tables, a very long, lighted pier for fishing. It would attract more than just the locals. Businesses would come back to the area and flourish. It would become a tourist attraction and income for the peninsula. Rollover pass was a man made mistake that many people realized a long time ago and have been trying to remedy ever since. It is slowly but surely shrinking our peninsula. Rollover pass will disappear along with it naturally if nothing is done to stop the beach erosion.

        • Realist says:

          “Heaven forbid you have to walk a little further down a pier to fish.”

          This snippy remark has stuck in my mind for quite a while, so here goes:

          Guess what, Pat, you’re gonna get old someday. You’ll be tired, weak, unable to do all the normal stuff you take for granted now, like washing your vehicle, cooking, even getting dressed without help. You probably have legs. You lucky thing, you!! Why don’t you volunteer for a couple days a month at a hospital or nursing home and see how the rest of the population lives like you will someday (if you’re lucky enough to make it to a decent nursing home)?

          Your self-centered holier-than-thou attitude shows me everything about you,and it ain’t pretty. If you don’t like what’s been around longer than you, too bad. Shut up and deal with it or go somewhere else that’s more perfect for you. You’ll be a lot happier instead of trying to change things that you can’t.

          The ocean will always win no matter what.

    • Ed Snyder says:

      I was one of the IDIOTS who decided to ride out Hurricane Claudette in ’03 at the pass- thats was crazy and i’ll never do that again– BUT – the geotube actually saved us from being washed away- the reason it wasn’t repaired after Claudette was due to sea turtles spawning along the geotube- but i survived claudette BECAUSE of the geotube-

  15. Matt says:

    Would jettys (or rock groins) built out on the beach side of the pass help solve the issues that the state has with it?

    • Ted says:

      There was a study from Pacific Engineering listing 5 possible ways to reduce or almost eliminate the amount of sand that travels thru the pass, the most effective was a delta enhancement with reef, Jerry Patterson and the GLO has and as of today will not entertain the possiblility that this could be a means to solve the sand issue and keep Rollover Pass open as one of the premier fishing venues in the State of Texas. Take Care

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