I know many of us look forward to bidding 2020 goodbye and focusing on what’s to come in the new year. That’s also true for the Galveston Park Board. While 2020 presented plenty of challenges, our staff and partners laid the groundwork for some substantial projects that will enhance the lives of islanders and our visitors.

Here are some 2021 highlights:

BEACH NOURISHMENT AND FLOOD MITIGATION PROJECTS

Last year, the park board and the city of Galveston’s Industrial Development Corp., with the help of state and federal officials, teamed up to secure funding for several major beach nourishment and improvement projects worth more than $70 million. The projects will take place through 2023 and will nourish and enhance the beaches at Babe’s Beach (west of 61st Street), Stewart Beach Park and Dellanera Beach Park.

NEW DIGS FOR THE GALVESTON VISITORS CENTER

Until 2020, the Galveston Island Visitors Center was housed at Ashton Villa. It moved to a shared space with the Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce last year. Later this year, the visitors center and chamber will relocate to a space on Market Street. Staff here will be able to assist Galveston visitors with maps, brochures and suggestions for things to do and see. Last year, more than 27,000 people sought assistance at the visitors center.

NEW WEBSITE

Take some time to go online and check out www.visitgalveston.com. For now, the new site is a “micro-blog” site, comprised of listicles and stories about the best Galveston has to offer. In May, the site will include comprehensive listings of lodging options — hotels and vacation rentals — restaurants, shops, art galleries and special events.

CONCESSIONAIRES

Park board staff has already begun inviting a more diverse group of concessionaires to join its team at the beach parks. Efforts are underway to attract minority and underrepresented groups to become business owners during the tourism season. The park board also is seeking to diversify the mix of product offerings at beach locations aimed to make a fun day at the beach even better.

CLEANER BEACHES

In 2020, the Coastal Zone Management team removed more than 1.7 million pounds of trash and debris from Galveston’s beaches. With the guidance of the citizen-led Beach Maintenance Advisory Committee, and with the support of park board partners like Artist Boat and the Surfrider Foundation, the board plans to step up efforts to keep Galveston free of trash and debris during the peak tourism season — using more strategic clean-up schedules, continued enforcement of regulations banning canopies and other equipment left overnight and encouraging visitors to clean up after themselves. Galveston’s Clean Team program will remain in place serving to recognize locals and guests who take the extra step to care for the beach environment.

Park board meetings are typically held at 1:30 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of the month at 601 23rd St. Meetings can be viewed via livestream at www.galvestonparkboard.org.

Mary Beth Bassett is the public relations director for the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Park Board of Trustees.

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