For most of us on the Texas coast, 2017 was an eventful year — from welcoming hundreds of thousands of people to our area for the Super Bowl to surviving Hurricane Harvey and witnessing snow-topped palm trees on the island for the first time in a long while.

It is safe to say that this year was one for the record books and at the park board, that sentiment is especially true. As 2017 comes to a close, here’s a look back at some of the organization’s major accomplishments over the last 12 months:

BUILDING HEALTHY BEACHES

The Park Board completed a $19.5 million beach replenishment project this spring that widened seawall beaches between 12th and 61st streets. More than 1 million cubic yards of sand was placed on the beach as a result of this project, which included support from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Texas General Land Office, city of Galveston and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

In addition to keeping the island’s beaches healthy, the park board’s Coastal Zone Management team also worked to keep them clean, green and pristine. This year, the park board collected 2.2 million pounds of trash and debris from the island’s 32-mile coastline. And, with the help of local nonprofit Artist Boat and with generosity from the Harris and Eliza Kempner Fund, the park board placed six new recycling stations along the seawall this summer. These stations were responsible for more than 3,000 pounds of plastic and aluminum being collected on the beach and recycled this year.

GROWING TOURISM

The Galveston Convention and Visitor’s Bureau’s contributions assisted the island in setting record numbers during the summer tourism season. The bureau’s group sales team booked 79,760 group room nights, representing a 28 percent increase over last year. The sports tourism staff brought 17 new sporting events to the island. The public relations team generated $377 million in positive media stories, including feature stories in The New York Times and Southern Living magazine, and the marketing staff generated 110 million digital media impressions.

PROMOTING BEACH SAFETY

Beach safety is always a priority for the Galveston Island Beach Patrol. This year, beach patrol lifeguards performed 124,556 preventive actions (such as moving a beachgoer away from a rip current). While not out patrolling the beaches, the beach patrol worked to educate the public about beach safety, reaching 25,900 Galveston and Houston-area students via water safety talks. And, longtime beach patrol Chief Peter Davis received the title of Knight in the Order of Lifesaving from the International Lifesaving Federation. Davis also led his team in performing more than 150 rescues on the mainland in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Next week: A look ahead at Park Board projects for 2018.

Park board meetings are open to the public and the public may address the board of trustees during the meetings. Park board meetings are typically held on the fourth Tuesday of the month at 1:30 p.m. at 601 Tremont St. If you are interested in seeing a park board issue discussed in this column or if you have any questions, please send them my way. I can be reached at mbassett@galvestonparkboard.org.

Mary Beth Bassett is the public relations coordinator for the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Park Board of Trustees.

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