Residents of Galveston, on Thursday, the Galveston City Council will give away your rights to Porretto Beach between Eighth and 12th streets. Unlike the damages from a hurricane, this travesty will live with us forever.

As I have written before, the Stewart Beach Pavilion and the beaches around Stewart Beach are the good bones other cities would fight to have. Unique to the United States, this 100-acre world-class public beach will make Galveston a world-class destination beach.

Boutique hotels, sidewalk cafes, low-rise condominiums, landscaped parks and a safe, landscaped, divided Seawall Boulevard would all be possible. This significant addition to an underachieving part of Galveston would enhance the area for tourists and citizens alike.

As the city already owns the rights of way through Porretto Beach, we are sitting in the catbird seat. The city rights of way on the Porretto Beach property are sufficient leverage to get the best price. Combine the city’s enviable position with the Park Board’s, private donors and other funds and Galveston’s world-class destination beach would be a reality.

Galveston’s world-class beach would be a tangible legacy to our grandchildren and future residents of the city for less than the cost of the new Little League ballpark, if only the city and the Park Board would show leadership and work together.

Thursday afternoon, the city council is going to give away your rights to Porretto Beach.

For a city adept at spending hundreds of millions of your tax dollars on projects, it is striking they have not been able to find the money to preserve and create a world-class beach for its citizens. Some council members have engaged in backroom politics to negotiate this giveaway of your rights to the public beach.

We, the people, have not been given the opportunity (though public hearings) to express our desire to preserve the public beach. City council members who originally supported the protection of your rights to Porretto Beach have now reversed themselves without explanation.

Well-connected law firms would benefit from the sale. Could this be why the council has refused to let the public speak? Regardless, I hope the city council remembers their obligation to the residents of Galveston to make Galveston a better place for everyone. (Two years ago, the previous city council voted to seek funds and bid on the Porretto Beach property — see Aug. 13 and Sept. 10, 2015 Galveston City Council meetings.)

This city council could assemble the needed cash from its IDC funding, buy Porretto Beach, pay off the debtors and thereby preserve the public beach rights of every resident of Galveston. Instead, a resolution effectively giving up your rights to the property will be voted on Thursday afternoon at the city hall. If you care about making Galveston a better place for all — the residents, our grandkids, businesses and visitors now and in the future — join me at 1 p.m. Thursday at the city council meeting to express your feelings on this giveaway of your rights and heritage.

Ralph McMorris lives in Galveston.

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(3) comments

Lisa Blair

The issue is not if the city should give up the ROW, its whether the city already did (in 1978) and if the city can prevail in a legal challenge. Also, why would condos, shopping and a low rise hotel be desirable and "world class" if done by the city but not if done by the private sector? But let's get everyone all worked up by misrepresenting the issue, so lots of folks show up and yell at the council, because that always works so well. Right,Ralph?

Charlotte O'rourke

Lisa, you made excellent points. I trust city council to make the best decision for the community based on the facts, legal issues and advice from its attorneys.

Litigation is costly and the city needs to be sure it can prevail before making a tough decision. I don’t know what happened in 1978. However, I don’t think responsible development is BAD and prevents a world class beach if private interests develop the property instead of public interests ....nor is our city council attempting to pull one over on the citizens of Galveston.

David Havel

Although I'm new to Galveston, I have to wonder why anyone would think a city could do a better job on a development than a professional developer. In my life, I have never seen a government entity do a better job on any project than a private company. Save the money and get the property back on the tax rolls. Everyone wins.

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