The new City Council in Galveston is talking about the possibility of having the Park Board of Trustees manage parking on the seawall.
That’s a relief.
It’s a good idea — but not a new one. It essentially gets the long-suffering Galveston voters back to where they stood two years ago.
The Park Board had done some preliminary work on a seawall parking plan early in 2012. However, the City Council that took over after the May 2012 elections had other ideas, at least some of which were unfortunate.
Island voters authorized the fee in a referendum. The whole idea was to generate revenue to make improvements on Galveston’s greatest asset: the seawall.
Voters were promised improvements they could see — showers, restrooms, drinking fountains. They were promised the money would not be siphoned off into salaries and benefits for city employees.
But the last council immediately hired new police officers, an impossibly heavy expense to charge against parking revenue. For two years, not much happened.
The city just recently installed some wash-off showers. That’s what most islanders wanted when they voted for the parking fee. What they want now is more amenities and fewer delays.
Putting this in the hands of the Park Board would be a good move.
Incidentally, when the Park Board was discussing seawall parking in early 2012, it turned up an intriguing idea. That was a proposal to ban parking on the south side of Seawall Boulevard and develop a series of parking lots served by shuttles.
The idea offers a solution to a significant long-range problem. Tilman Fertitta’s Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier has changed the face of the seawall. A developer also is proposing to bring back a development at the site of the old Balinese Room, which would put more pressure on the finite number of parking spaces along the seawall.
At the time, the Park Board noted the obvious problem: Galveston was trying to accommodate millions of visitors with about a thousand parking spaces on the seawall.
The Park Board saw, two years ago, that this problem would sooner or later discourage visitors.
It was refreshing then to hear a proposal to address long-range challenges before they get to be critical problems. That’s a conversation that’s worth having again.