Michael A. Smith is usually the voice of pragmatic reasoning in a confusing world, but his reasoning regarding the Porretto Beach rights of way is baffling.

According to his reasoning in “The Galveston Planning Commission ignored the rules” (The Daily News, Jan. 11) we should all be content to just follow the rules. The reasoning of Commissioner Cate Black in declaring that “this is a different situation because it’s a beach” informs that the “rules” don’t provide a clear determination in this unique situation.

The “rules” as revealed in this editorial are dubious at best. They sound like a clever interpretation by a competent lawyer doing his job.

The rule being that since the city wasn’t planning to use the rights of way then they should be abandoned, that the proposed development has nothing to do with it. If the development has nothing to do with it, then why is the city considering the abandonment of these rights of way after decades upon decades of having them? And why should any public entity abandon what is rightfully the ownership of the citizens who that public entity represents? Never mind that these rights of way are extremely valuable considering that an undeveloped urban beach is as rare as hens teeth. Who wouldn’t want to develop it?

So the city contemplates just giving these rights of way away instead of using them as leverage! Full disclosure, my sentiments in this matter are driven by (as Michael A. Smith put it) personal bias. I enjoy this beach. I live near it. I brought my future wife to it when I attended the Texas Maritime Academy on Pelican Island in the ‘70s. We brought our children to this beach through the years, and now, our grandchildren.

It’s not a thing just to be abandoned.

Leroy LeFlore lives in Galveston.

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(3) comments

Lalise Mason

Our organization, SCENIC GALVESTON, Inc., has been approached by now-numerous concerned Island citizens about helping to facilitate the fee acquisition of the private tracts of Porretto Beach for continued public use and enjoyment. We intend to pursue this purchase in a fair market real estate scenario. 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. These easements, which are actually property rights, belong to the citizens of Galveston, dating to the Island’s original city grid establishment. This means, quite simply, that the easements have always been a known encumbrance to Porretto ownership, and this has never mattered much until now, when the property is tied up in an estate, with a private development interest at work conditional upon easement abandonment. To us, it seems like a clear win-win for the beach in question to change hands and be re-visioned for the folks of Galveston. However, there are conflicting visions here. Bottom line…Why would it be in the public’s best interest to abandon these easements now? Sure hope the Council votes to keep its options open on Porretto Beach! If so, SCENIC GALVESTON will see what we can do to work cordially with the estate to get these properties figured out for everybody. Thanks. —Lalise Whorton Mason

Bill Cochrane

Ms Mason, So, it appears that you want to buy the beach property? But you want to get a good deal as a result of the city keeping the right of ways, making the land useless, and driving any developers away? Looks like dirty politics to me. And if you purchase the land, you will give it back to the city? Meaning it will be yet another “scenic” parcel that pays no property tax? As a Galveston property owner, paying over $40,000 per year in property taxes, I’d like to know how much Scenic Galveston pays in property taxes? SG owns thousands of acres of land. How much? Hmmm . . .?

Jarvis Buckley

Bill- I like the way you think👍

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