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

@galvnews.com

(4) comments

Don Ciaccio

The incompetency shown by the tub boat operator tells me they should be sued bey

Don Ciaccio

Beyond belief. They deserve to be punished for the severe impact on Galveston's Tourism.

Andy Aycoth

I think to sue right off the bat is not the right answer,
You sue Lawyers get half . They also subtract what you get for the expenses occurred presenting the case. Also any settlement paid to you the insurance company get part of your settlement for the losses they occurred .
It is better not to file and negotiate directly with the company or rep.

Mike Leahy

Better to wait until investigation is over and clear cause of the incident is identified. Then decide who, of several likely entities should be sued.

Otherwise time and money will be wasted suing the wrong people and then starting up new lawsuits. Great plan for lawyers to start too early, but not a great plan for citizens / taxpayers.

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