Should the city of Galveston sell the city rights of way to Porretto Beach for a few thousand dollars? One could look at this as an opportunity to receive some cash and have a property placed on the tax rolls with the expectation that a structure will be built that will provide revenues in both property and sales tax revenue.

On the other hand, this would be a large loss to the city’s quality of life. Now we have an unobstructed view of the gulf, which gives many a sense of joy and pleasure.

The city is currently addressing the needs and wants of its citizens — building a community pool, landscaping and improving the 27th Street corridor, adding city bike lanes, a new fire station, and greatly needed infrastructure needs (storm drains and streets). The priority of the city council is the safety and the well-being of its citizens.

Visitors should come behind the needs and wants of our residents. If we give up these rights of ways now they will be lost forever and there will be no turning back. This is a time when the city council needs to look beyond today and gather a vision for tomorrow.

There are pros and cons to everything. If we were to look at how Galveston has advertised and promoted itself, we will find we have increased the visitors to island and have increased our sales tax income. At the same time, the seawall has become more difficult to drive down during the summer months, due to the additional cars.

Are we getting close to a saturation point on how many cars the island can accommodate? How much of the city do we want to give up to our visitors? This returns us to what quality of life do we want on the island. Do we want more development, more cars and congestion? I would like to see us come to an understanding, that the island can only hold so many cars before we lose all the qualities that have drawn and kept us on the island.

The city does not have to give up these streets rights of way at Porretto Beach. They would be doing the city a disservice should they decide to proceed with a sale. They should look at ways the city could purchase the Porretto property. The city’s priority is to its residents, so take the time now to see how moneys could be raised to purchase the property. The property is worth a great deal less to a developer without the rights of ways, and we, should pursue every avenue possible to make the purchase a reality for the city. The most logical source of funding is the IDC’s beach silo.

I encourage all the citizens of Galveston to contact our city council members and tell them that the area at Porretto Beach should be saved from development for future generations to enjoy. We should do all we can to protect and preserve our natural resources.

Robert L.K. Lynch lives in Galveston.


(12) comments

Don Schlessinger

Thank you for your message Mr. Lynch. Everyone I've talked about the question agree with you also. Unfortunately, from what I've read in the newspaper, I'm left believing the decision has been made by our council to give up the easements to the developer. Our current council is strictly tourist oriented, and could care less about why you and I moved to the island.

Lalise Mason

Robert: Thank you for the thoughtful editorial. Our organization, SCENIC GALVESTON, Inc., has been approached by several concerned Island citizens about helping to facilitate the fee acquisition of the private tracts of Porretto Beach for its continued public use and enjoyment. For us, continuing the City easements would not be any impediment to such a project, since the City would, in all likelihood, be the ultimate recipient of the property in any case. We strongly encourage the City to leave its options open on Porretto Beach. —Lalise Whorton Mason

Charlotte O'rourke

The rights-of-way in the original plat of the City of Galveston are not held by the City as fee-simple property. The rights-of-way are easements with the adjacent property owner continuing to own the land. The easement are intended to provide access and utilities to private property.”

So .... government takes private land as an easement but doesn’t really own the easement, then determines the city has absolutely no use for the easement now or in the future, but some suggest the government keep the easement rights anyway, pay $6 million for the private property, take it off the tax rolls, and have the financial obligation of its maintenance in perpetuity.

All this new beach view protection while saying the city/park board can’t afford to fix the Ike destroyed pavilion on Pelican Island, do repairs or rebuild a new Stewart beach pavilion or have enough funds for the east end or lagoon parks, or have enough financial support for other capital projects. And raises beach parking fees on residents and tourists alike to help pay costs.

I want government to do the right thing .... I just happen to believe it is a different right thing.

Friends and neighbors can agree to disagree, but don’t keep suggesting that anyone (including council) supporting private property rights is only for tourists (We all live here) or against the open beaches act which all adamantly endorse.

Kelly Naschke

Very well said Charlotte. You succinctly hit the nail right on the head.

Jarvis Buckley

Article sounds really good. Just have to understand . Everything comes with a price . Beautiful views vs higher taxes. That's the choice
the council will be considering.

Lisa Blair

It’s easy to look at the surface and say “Save the beach!” but when you drill it down to the law and the ordinances, like Charlotte does, it’s just not that easy. It’s not ours to save.

Ellen Morrison

But it is! It is that easy, and it sure as heck is ours to save!!! And Mr Lynch points that out. It would be nice if he would help with the fundraising, though.

I really hope your post doesn’t mean that the current district 3 City council member, Frank Maceo, is going to be voting to abandon the easements. I have been paying attention, and it doesn’t seem that Mr Maceo has been voting with the best interests of residents. More like he votes for tourists and development. I’m tired of City council ignoring residents. I hope he votes for the residents this time - and I think lots of voters are going to be remembering who their City council representative supported in a few months.

Lisa Blair

My opinion has nothing to do with Maceo’s. My opinion comes from being a planning commissioner and studying the case. The city only owns ACCESS to someone else’s property for as long as the City can demonstrate that they have a use for that access in the future. That use can only be for specific things, roads or utilities. The case for keeping the easements fails under the laws that exist right now.

Ellen Morrison

Then why does the City Attorney say there is another consideration - that of the greater public good?

I would assume that he might have a handle on the applicable legalities. And he seems to disagree with your last sentence.

Lisa Blair

We’ll see how the council interprets the law soon enough. But I know that folks have been talking for two years now about Saving the Beach, South Beach, and the World Class Beach and as far as I know, not a single dollar has been raised.

Jarvis Buckley

Touché , Lisa✌️

Ellen Morrison

Except, of course, for the comment above by Ms. Mason that indicates Scenic Galveston is working in that direction.

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