GALVESTON — The Galveston Park Board of Trustees will pursue a claim for damages resulting from a March 22 accident that spilled oil into Galveston Bay, officials announced Thursday.
In a special meeting, the park board voted to hire lawyers to begin the claims process. The board will use emergency reserve funds to pay for legal expenses.
Park board Chairman Craig Brown said the board would seek compensation both for actual expenses it incurred in responding to the spill — such as employees who were used as part of cleanup efforts — and for the estimated loss of revenue that has come from closing two parks, Seawolf Park on Pelican Island and Apffel Park on East Beach.
The two parks have been closed to visitors since March 23. With shorelines on the Houston Ship Channel, the two areas were the most visibly polluted.
During the meeting, park board Executive Director Kelly de Schaun said the parks might not reopen until Easter weekend, April 20.
Before the vote, de Schaun said she believed the board should prepare a “war chest” to seek as much compensation as possible from those responsible.
The park board’s claim could include the amount of money spent on marketing and promotion to counter any damage to Galveston’s beaches as a result of the spill.
During the meeting, officials pointed out that one day before the spill, the city had been proclaimed a top spring break destination in USA Today.
Instead of riding that publicity, however, the park board heard a report that media coverage of the oil spill had caused the equivalent of a $164 million negative ad campaign.
The park board elected to hire the Houston-based marketing group MMI Agency to develop a plan to address the marketing problems caused by the spill.
The park board will ask for that cost to be repaid as well, Brown said.
Contact reporter John Wayne Ferguson at 409-683-5226 or john.ferguson