Twenty two months after Hurricane Harvey destroyed the Fulton Convention Center, also known as Paws and Taws for its square dancing roots, the city is still refunding money to groups that had reserved space there for events.
“We’ve got people who had it booked-up every weekend for almost three years, so we’re still sending refunds back,” Fulton Mayor Jimmy Kendrick said.
City leaders and other officials ceremoniously broke ground on the new Fulton Convention Center Paws and Taws Building last week at the same location where the old building once stood at Fulton Harbor. A check of the construction site today showed workers operating heavy machinery and putting up fencing.
“We have to go forward,” Kendrick said. “We can’t look back. Rearview mirrors don’t help you any.”
The City of Fulton will collect fees that groups pay to use the new building, but economic leaders say conventions of up to 500 people bring money to other nearby communities too in the form of dining, lodging, and entertainment dollars.
“We’re very excited this is all coming to fruition,” Deanna Spruce of Aransas County Long Term Recovery said. “It’s great for Fulton and Rockport and Aransas County.”
Kendrick says the new convention center will cost between two and a half and three million dollars, but it shouldn’t cost the city a dime. He says the money will instead come from insurance settlements, FEMA, and a hurricane recovery organization called Rebuild Texas.
“When you put all those funds together, we’re going to pay for this building without having to go into our reserves or our cash flow,” Kendrick said. “It’s a step in the right direction for the community.”
Kendrick expects the new convention center to be completed by the beginning of Fulton Oyster Fest next year which is the first weekend in March.