Matagorda Harbor Development Project

  • Matagorda Harbor Development Vision
  • Matagorda Harbor Development Harbor Vision
  • Matagorda Harbor Development Recreational Park Vision
  • Matagorda Harbor Development Private Investment Vision
  • Matagorda Harbor Development Hotel Vision
  • Matagorda Harbor Development GIWW Boardwalk Vision

Public Information Meetings

Download and share the Matagorda Harbor Development Project informational flyer

The Port of Bay City Authority will hold three public meetings to answer questions from the public and provide information highlighting the project components and economic impact. Locations and times are listed as follows:

Matagorda Fireman’s HallApril 5, 20236–7 PMDownload to Calendar
Bay City Civic Center Room 103 April 6, 20236-7 PMDownload to Calendar
Caney Creek ChapelApril 12, 20236-7 PMDownload to Calendar

Ballot Information

The following statement will appear on your ballot:

“The Issuance of $68,000,000 Port of Bay City Authority Bonds for the Purpose of Improving, Constructing, or Developing Port Improvements and the Levy of a Tax for the Payment of the Bonds and the Cost of any Credit Agreements Executed in Connection with the Bonds.”

☐ For ☐ Against

Voter Information

Early VotingApril 24 – May 2, 2023
Election DayMay 6, 2023
Polling LocationsBay City Service Center and Port of Palacios
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Your vote counts!

Matagorda Harbor Development Vision

Residents of Matagorda have long enjoyed low-key country living and are proud of their productive local farms and abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation. A great quality of life is hard to keep secret, so news of Matagorda’s bounty is spreading, and its economic potential is skyrocketing. In 2022, three companies committed to multibillion-dollar investments in Matagorda County that will bring jobs and energy to this tranquil coastal community.

In anticipation of continued growth in Matagorda County, the Port of Bay City Authority (Port) proposes the Matagorda Harbor Development Project—a 200-acre recreational complex on Port-owned property. The project would increase recreational and educational opportunities for residents and visitors, and the construction and operation of the project are expected to increase jobs and economic activity.* The Port seeks to attract private developers to construct and operate complementary businesses.

The proposed Matagorda Harbor Development Project is the result of a collaborative process involving the Port, local elected officials, government staff, and members of the public.

With input from public meetings in 2022, the Port’s project vision includes the following features:

  • Recreational harbor expansion encompassing 28 acres
  • 100 floating temporary mooring docks and 90 covered long-term boat slips
  • RV park with 50 pads and a bathhouse
  • Four boat ramps, a fish cleaning station, and a public restroom
  • Two public fishing piers
  • A fairground area and community center supporting vendors and festivals
  • A public park with a playground, picnic areas, and a public restroom
  • Gravel and elevated timber walking paths with educational signage
  • Four viewing platforms for observing local birds and wildlife
  • Facilities for youth camps, school field trips, and other educational activities
  • A welcome center, access roads, footpaths, parking areas, and related infrastructure
  • Utilities for expected future development such as a hotel, restaurants, and retail shops
Construction Phase*Long-Term Operations*
Total Economic Activity$148 M$57 M (Annually)
Labor Income$32 M$15 M (Annually)
*Estimated economic impact by TXP, Inc.
Matagorda Harbor Development Vision

Note: Renderings feature the Port’s vision for the expected, future private investment. The Port will not use bond funds for the construction or operation of facilities owned by private investors.

Frequently Asked Questions

You’re invited to the Port’s public information meetings to learn more about the Matagorda Harbor Development Project and how it will affect Matagorda and Matagorda County. At these meetings, representatives of the Port, the Port’s engineering and economic consultants, and the Port’s legal counsel will be on hand to answer your questions and hear your concerns. Check the top of this webpage to learn when and where the meetings will be held. We look forward to seeing you there! 

1. Would the Matagorda Harbor Development Project affect property taxes?  

Yes. Based on current property valuations, the greatest increase in annual tax burden is estimated to be $59.71 for a $100,000 homestead. This amount could be reduced substantially as industries and other businesses relocate to Matagorda and start paying property taxes. Several large industries have voiced an interest in moving to the area. Under the current plan, if the bond is approved, the Port will not draw bond funds until the fourth quarter of 2025, which means local property taxes would not be affected until 2027. The bond will be paid over 30 years, and the annual tax burden is currently forecasted to decrease each year during that period.  

2. Why is the Port pursuing grants to fund the Matagorda Harbor Development Project if it is already pursuing a bond? 

The Port is currently pursuing multiple grants and will continue to do so throughout the project’s duration to help fund its design and construction. If grant funds are awarded, the Port may be able to reduce its draw of bond funds, which in turn would reduce the impact on property taxes.

3. What is the expected schedule for the Matagorda Harbor Development Project? 

If the bond passes, permitting and design work would start soon after and are expected to take about 2½ years. The construction groundbreaking would likely be held in early 2026. Construction is expected to take about 3 years, with the grand opening expected sometime in early 2029. The final schedule will depend on many factors, including the weather, permitting delays, and other unforeseen circumstances.  

4. How would the Matagorda Harbor Development Project fare during the “off-season”?

The Matagorda Harbor Development Project includes a grassed fairground of at least seven acres that would help attract visitors during the winter. The project would also have a large outdoor stage and community center for festivals, concerts, community service events, farmers and vendors markets, and youth camp educational opportunities. These events could also benefit surrounding businesses by increasing foot traffic during the off-season.  

The Matagorda Harbor Development Project also includes boardwalks, bird blinds, and piers, which may help promote year-round ecotourism and may also help Matagorda maintain its first place ranking in the national Audubon Christmas bird count.

5. Could the Matagorda Harbor Development Project harm local businesses?

Many local business owners have expressed their excitement about the prospect of increased foot traffic, which some believe will add to their bottom line. Construction workers and long-term employees at the Matagorda Harbor Development Project may also become new customers. Finally, a potential monthly Farmers and Vendors Market could draw regional customers and give small businesses an opportunity to showcase their products. 

Businesses in town would be able to operate as they always have and perhaps benefit from the increased customer base. Businesses that choose to take advantage of the infrastructure and opportunities at the Matagorda Harbor Development Project may expand at the site. Local businesses would be given the opportunity to market their produce and goods as unique to Matagorda with the goal of attracting more customers.

6. Would the Matagorda Harbor Development Project have a negative impact on the health of surrounding water bodies?

No, the Matagorda Harbor Development Project is not expected to degrade the surrounding bays and estuaries or the fish and other wildlife that live there. The project is intended to reduce congestion at the harbor. Although the expanded harbor will provide increased fishing opportunities, sales of fishing licenses in Texas have been steady for 40 years and significant increases are not expected. A recent “report card” on Texas mid-coast bays, including Matagorda Bay, prepared by the Harte Research Institute of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi rated the fisheries “very good” with “overall strong populations.”

7. Would the Matagorda Harbor Development Project have a negative impact on the health of surrounding water bodies?

No, in fact, the Matagorda Harbor Development Project would help improve water quality in the harbor. If voters approve the project, material excavated during the expansion of the harbor will be used to raise the elevation of the entire project site. The resulting landscape will be graded so that most stormwater runoff will drain away from the harbor and will be filtered through wetlands before reaching the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. Some stormwater may drain into the harbor, but it will also be filtered to ensure it is clean. In addition, bubblers or fountains will be designed and installed to increase dissolved oxygen and circulation in the harbor.

8. What environmental impacts would the Matagorda Harbor Development Project have?  

The extent of specific environmental impacts is currently unknown, but the Port has initiated conversations with resource agency staff and is committed to creating a project that provides environmental benefits with few, if any, negative environmental impacts. If the project moves forward, the Port will continue to coordinate with resource agencies to ensure that environmental impacts are minimized.  

The project will require approval from natural resource agencies as part of the extensive environmental reviews required to obtain the necessary permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This permitting process will be subject to public comment. Based on current information, there may be unavoidable impacts to some wetland areas on the project site. The Port will comply with all permit requirements and will mitigate any unavoidable impacts to wetlands. This may include expanding and enhancing wetlands on site to provide additional habitat for wildlife and viewing opportunities for visitors.  

9. What type of educational opportunities would the Matagorda Harbor Development Project provide? 

Signs along the project trails leading to bird blinds, wildlife viewing platforms, and public fishing piers will provide information about the history of Matagorda and the local bays, estuaries, and wildlife. The project’s community center will have space for youth camps and field trips. 

The Port intends to attract a university to create and operate an education center which, it hopes, will provide dual-credit courses for Matagorda, Brazoria, Calhoun, and Wharton County high school students. One university has inquired about creating a graduate research facility on the project site. 

10. How will the Port address the possibility of crime? 

To minimize the possibility of crime or vandalism, the Port will provide lighting throughout the project site and along walking trails, install security cameras, coordinate with local law enforcement, and clean and maintain the property on a regular basis.  

11. Where would on-site revenue go? 

Revenue from leases and other on-site activities could be used to reduce the Port’s tax rate, fund on-site security, and maintain, repair, and upgrade new and existing facilities.