The county has finalized a couple of measures affecting beaches in time for the second weekend of spring break, when thousands of visitors could come to relax along the Gulf.
The commissioners court Tuesday approved the final amount of spending needed for utility-task vehicles outfitted with emergency lights, which will be used to increase law enforcement on Bolivar Peninsula beaches. Deputies could start increased patrolling by this weekend, Sheriff Henry Trochesset said. Officials want the deputies to act as tourism ambassadors and enforce rules, including a beach-sticker program requiring visitors to pay to park on the sand.
Tickets cost $10 for any vehicle, including golf carts, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and cars. They can be purchased through the county or at various stores on the peninsula.
In February, the commissioners court approved spending $57,000 to buy the vehicles, to be paid with funds from beach parking fees, officials said. The vote on Tuesday transferred money for emergency lights from the beach fund to the vehicle fund.
The county has deployed extra deputies to the peninsula on busy summer and spring break weekends since 1993, but this is the first time some of them will be exclusively patrolling the beach, Trochesset said. Previously, deputies patrolled the beaches, but they also responded to crashes and crimes elsewhere on the peninsula.
The commissioners court also approved an agreement with the Galveston Park Board of Trustees, which manages the island’s beaches, to continue maintenance of two county parks. Under the agreement, the park board will continue to maintain Pocket Parks No. 1 and No. 2, in the 11000 block of San Luis Pass Road. Admission to each costs $8 per car and $16 per bus or RV.
However, the county’s Pocket Park No. 3, at the intersection of San Luis Pass Road and 11 Mile Road, is now free to the public, park board spokeswoman Mary Beth Bassett said. The park board no longer manages it, Bassett said.
The park has been officially closed to visitors since Hurricane Ike in 2008, which extensively damaged facilities. In December, the county approved demolition of a pavilion, which was determined to be beyond repair. The park board plans to provide portable toilets at the park during spring break and the summer season, Bassett said.