Correction: This guest column incorrectly states Galveston City Councilwoman Carolyn Sunseri works for Stewart Title Co. Sunseri works for South Land Title Co. and has never been affiliated with Stewart Title Co.

Here are my Top 10 reasons for city council to not abandon Porretto Beach rights of way. The future of this beach is so important to Galvestonians, and the factors are so numerous and complicated, the council should defer this decision while choices are analyzed and explored.

1. Does the buyer of Porretto Beach have the proper and final building permit from the state of Texas to build on the beach?

2. Permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build in front of the seawall and to penetrate the seawall to bring utilities to any development proposed on the beach can take one to three years, and probably will not be granted because of major regional improvements to flood protection are necessary.

3. If the city gives these rights of way to the bankruptcy trustee, and if the city later decides to reacquire the beach, it will have to buy back its rights of way at a premium. This beach area will be worth millions to the city in the future. To sell it to the buyers for an arbitrary small amount now will prove to be the dumbest decision made by the city this century.

4. It doesn’t make sense that the city is asking for federal dollars to construct additional hurricane and floodwater protection for Galveston, but will allow construction in front of the seawall. Why would the federal government give money to Galveston to construct stormwater protection when the city allows construction in front of existing stormwater protection, the seawall?

5. If the city abandons the rights of way, it will have to provide infrastructure improvements to the new development south of the seawall at the cost of millions of dollars to the taxpayers.

6. My understanding from other lawyers is there is no legal reason under state law that the city must give up its rights of way for any reason.

7. Carolyn Sunseri should recuse herself since her Stewart Title company has done work for the Porretto Beach bankruptcy and may expect compensation out of the current sale.

8. Two years ago, the city council voted unanimously to acquire Porretto Beach. If the city does not abandon the rights of way, it can purchase Porretto Beach now with its industrial development sales tax funds that are currently available and in the bank. Other sources of funds are lining up now, or could be available with application to the State, for example, the BP disaster funds.

9. If the city acquires the beach, property immediately adjacent and north of the seawall will increase substantially in value and be desirable for quality development, yielding increased property taxes and sales tax revenue. These first-class improvements will add to our growing tourism industry. Infrastructure already exists for further development north of the seawall, that does not damage the Seawall.

10. And most of all, the city can create a major world-class beach area for the residents and visitors to Galveston Island. Good planning by the city will enhance this underdeveloped area of Galveston and front door of the multibillion dollar University of Texas Medical Branch campus.

Ralph McMorris is a former city of Galveston councilman.


(7) comments

Lisa Blair

I think Ms Sunseri is perfectly capable of deciding whether or not she has a conflict.

Jarvis Buckley

Why hasn't #10 been considered previously. Why consider it now?
Easement's been abandoned for years. Just asking.........

Lisa Blair

And I’m pretty sure she works for Southland Title not Stewart.

Bill Cochrane

McMorris asks questions that have nothing to do with rights of way, and contradicts himself throughout his “Top 10”.
#1. Asks about permits? What does having permits from the city have to do with anything. The developer has the right to apply for permits after the sale. If denied, that’s his problem.
#2. Same answer as #1. And it may or may not take time. Why would that make any difference?
#3. Right of way buy-back conditions could be agreed upon in the legal papers the City and developer sign. (I suggest the papers are put somewhere the city can find, unlike the right of way papers already done and lost.)
#4. It doesn’t make sense? That’s funny. Since when does the government require anything to “make sense”. Don’t get me started.
#5. Infrastructure costs at taxpayer expense? Infrastructure is no different than if the development was built inside the seawall.
#6. What does state law have to do with it? Giving up the right of ways is a normal city way of doing business as usual. It’s done often.
#7. I did not know Sunseri owned (her) Stewart Title, but, if that's true, I’ll give you this one.
#8. So, why didn’t the City buy it? You propose to hold the right of ways to keep the value down in order to buy it ? Shame on you. The reason? The “view”? Convert a property that could become a major property and sales tax value to another No Tax Zone?
#9. If the city acquires the land, why would it make the land north of the seawall more valuable? You just explained that the land on the beach should stay as is?
#10. Contradiction - you are against a developer from creating a world class beach area, but you state the City could “create a world-class beach area”.

Debra Criss

spin, shade, and untruths from Ralph. #7 Ms. Sunseri is employed by Southland Title, not Stewart Title. When trying to persuade anyone who is listening Ralph, it helps to get the simplest of facts correct. #anyonebutralph.

Kelly Naschke

Ralph doesn't even know that there is a new development....on the front of the seawall.....less than a mile from Porretto Beach?

Bill Cochrane

Anyone viewing the website of Scenic Galveston will easily see that this organization is solely based on saving wetlands and marshes. Searching their website, there is no mention of “saving beaches”? While I do think there is some need to save wetlands, with any endeavour, there is need for moderation. When a group like scenic Galveston gains power by obtaining grants and donations from like-minded folks, they tend to overstep their boundaries. In order to receive grants, obviously they need a project. Even if the project isn’t pertaining to their core values. It seems that Scenic Galveston has run out of wetlands to save, and have become the sight police. It’s one thing to “save” unusable wetlands, but entirely reckless to “save” perfectly usable land, such as Porretto Beach. The saved wetlands owned by Scenic Galveston are converted to property tax free parcels. So it seems that Beeton and Scenic Galveston want to keep the rights of way in order to purchase the beach and convert it to a property that has no property tax. All in the name of maintaining the “scenic view”?

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