The much-anticipated consultant’s report recommending ways Galveston might make the Broadway corridor look better seems to have raised more questions about that long-running effort than it answered.
Some of that’s to be expected. Members of the Broadway Ad Hoc Committee, which got a look at the consultant’s work Wednesday, had taken on a daunting task.
Anybody who thought it was going to be easy to reverse an aesthetic decline happening over several decades and involving a whole lot of privately owned property was engaged in wishful thinking.
Some of the questions at hand today, however, seem to fall outside of the reasonably expected.
One of those questions is whether the committee, and ultimately the taxpayers, got what they had asked for and paid more than $100,000 for and whether they got anything that can actually be used to do some good.
There was a range of opinions about that Tuesday after Design Workshop, the firm hired to study and make recommendations about beautifying Broadway, presented the results of its six-month project.
It was a pretty narrow range, however.
Some committee members seemed completely disappointed with the plan and some said it needed much more work. None that we heard said the result was exactly what they had hoped to get.
If there was a consensus, it seems to be that, at best, the plan is far from complete, which means it won’t be presented to the city council for consideration this month.
“We’re going to call a time out,” committee Chairwoman Betty Massey said. “We obviously have a long way to go.”
District 5 Councilwoman Terrilyn Tarlton-Shannon said six more months were needed to develop the plan.
“We’re right back where we started,” Tarlton-Shannon said. “If we’re supposed to vote for this in two weeks, I don’t see we’re anywhere close in doing that.”
Back in February, we argued the city shouldn’t spend a considerable amount of public money hiring a consultant to look again at a problem that has vexed islanders for as many as 40 years.
We argued then that what Galveston needed more than another study was commitment from individual owners along Broadway to improve and beautify their property and ways to incentivize that commitment by providing material and financial assistance when possible.
That financial investment likely would be cheaper and yield more immediate and visible returns than another study.
We were skeptical about what another study might accomplish other than spending money for consultants to create findings and recommendations that would join forgotten findings and recommendations on dusty shelves somewhere at city hall.
We’re doubly concerned about that now and urge city leaders not to spend any more money on this project until the committee and the community have had a chance to dig into the details.
Likewise, don’t park it on a shelf.
The consultants Wednesday spent a lot of time talking about a grand vision for the Broadway esplanades, which was puzzling and, we argue, off-putting to a lot of people.
The esplanades aren’t the problem, so spending years and heaps of money on them won’t do any good. We’d have then what’s there now — a grand esplanade flanked, in places, by ugly.
That aspect of the plan stole the show, but there’s much more in the recommendations. Now’s the time for careful assessment and reflection about what’s in the details.
• Michael A. Smith