The future of construction at Stewart Beach remains in question after the Park Board of Trustees on Tuesday shot down a proposal to spend $42,000 designing mobile alternatives to replacing a beach-front pavilion.
The mobile units, which would include bathrooms, showers and retail space, came as a reaction to the Galveston City Council last year rebuffing the park board’s proposed $25 million pavilion at Stewart Beach.
These stations were meant to be a more cost-effective way of providing bathrooms and other amenities on the beach, Sheryl Rozier, a park board project manager, said.
“This is an offshoot of the discussions we’ve had at the city to have more mobile facilities to try to lessen the cost of hard infrastructure,” Rozier said.
But trustees balked at the $42,000 price, which would have been for design alone, and voted to task a park board committee with developing new recommendations.
Trustee Steven Creitz voted against this measure.
“It’s just too astronomical right now for something so amorphous,” Trustee Victor Viser said.
The trustees have already spent a lot of money on the next stages for Stewart Beach without anything being built, Viser said.
Before getting the thumbs down from the city council, the park board spent more than $500,000 on design for the proposed pavilion that would replace an aging facility at Stewart Beach, according to records.
Last year, the city and the park board decided to redirect efforts toward improving drainage at the beach, a problem that has long plagued the popular tourist spot.
The park board in December committed about $150,000 to correcting drainage problems, a cost that included some engineering for East Beach, according to records.
Both the city council and park board trustees last year expressed interest in exploring the feasibility of mobile stations that could be moved from beach to beach and stored in the off season.
The proposed $42,000 for the mobile stations isn’t too much for high-quality products that create a more high-end perception of Galveston, Creitz said.
“As long as we have Port-a-Potties set up, that’s what the perception is going to be,” Creitz said. “I battle with people in Houston about the perception in Galveston all the time.”
The cost of one of the mobile units could run about $200,000, although that number is rough and not specific to Galveston, Rozier said.
That’s not as much as quotes other vendors were giving for mobile stations on the beach, Executive Director Kelly de Schaun said.
“They couldn’t commit to it and the price was astronomical,” de Schaun said.
But the park board shouldn’t be focusing on amenities, Trustee Jason Worthen said. Instead, it needs to focus on fixing the current pavilion, which houses important offices and facilities used by park board staff and beach patrol, he said.
“The pavilion is falling down right now,” Worthen said. “If the pavilion does fall down, we have all these great amenities, but we have no office.”
Now, a park board committee will conduct more research on the future of Stewart Beach and prepare different recommendations for potential buildings.