Y ou could raise some questions about how well the city of Galveston has delivered on promises it made to voters who in 2011 approved a plan to charge for parking along the seawall.
And those questions are likely to become more frequently asked as we approach July 2020, when voters may be asked to decide whether to allow the program to continue or allow it to end under a sunset provision.
It would be reasonable to ask, for example, whether the city councils empaneled and the city administrations at work in the years since that 2011 referendum have done a good job delivering the improvements voters expected when they supported the ballot proposition.
About six years have passed since that vote and the city is just now making substantial progress toward getting the improvements — installing public restrooms, pedestrian lighting and bus stops — done.
Some islanders would argue that was too long and the proof the city didn’t do a very good job managing the program.
District 2 Councilman Craig Brown alluded to that dissatisfaction this week when he told a Daily News reporter he had doubts about how another referendum might go.
“I’m not sure if it goes back to voters that it would pass again,” Brown said.
We have no doubt there is dissatisfaction among voters about the seawall parking program, but argue it’s beside the point.
There’s only one relevant question about seawall parking fees for island taxpayers, however, and it has nothing much to do with how well the city got the program up and running.
The question is this: Do you want to make yourselves exclusively responsible for covering the maintenance costs of the improvements, which, late or not, do now exist?
If not, if you’d rather tourists cover some of the costs, you’re pretty much obliged to support continuing the parking fee program.
• Michael A Smith
San Luis Pass Bridge bid now with less pork?
Earlier this week, we argued that including a request for $135 million in federal hurricane relief money to replace the San Luis Pass Bridge looked a lot like old-fashioned pork barrel government spending.
What, we asked, did replacing a bridge connecting Galveston’s West End to the mainland have to with hurricane mitigation?
Later in the week, County Commissioner Ken Clark explained the plan envisioned incorporating the bridge into the western end of a larger storm surge barrier. The $135 million would pay to build jetties out into the pass, a bridge between the jetties and some sort of floodgates that could be closed during storms.
Fair enough. We’ll admit funding for the bridge looks a lot less out of place in that context than it had before. We can’t go so far as to say including the bridge was appropriate, however.
At $135 million, the project still left a large footprint on the county’s request and added another $135 million to a $12 billion request for storm barriers.
• Michael A. Smith