If Galveston were a car, it would be an older sedan, a Honda Civic maybe, something reliable, but nothing fancy, respondents to one recent survey would argue.

Keri Heath: 409-683-5241; or on Twitter @HeathKeri.

Recommended for you

(13) comments

Allen Flores

City manager Brian Maxwell is the most powerful man in Galveston and he can change Galveston's image by having an open mind to change. His current philosophy regarding large disruptive events is, "We do it this way because that's how we've always done it." His relationship with promoters has become friendly, so he accepts all of their demands without change. The big events with disorderly crowds are spoiling it for the smaller family events that make Galveston cool and unique. No matter where you place any motorcycle event, you can't control where they drive. Police dealt with problems on west beach, the entire Seawall and The Strand. Promoters claim that bikers will stay in one or two small areas. The big events are dirty, unnecessary and should be changed dramatically. It's a dated idea to use promoters to make big events bigger. Maxwell is against change and the city council ignores the dated and dirty events that ruin Galveston's family image. Hotel occupancy for Mardi Gras and early November is just fine without promoters. It was evident that a cruising event like Kappa Beach Party created traffic problems for residents and law enforcement. The motorcycle event is a traffic nightmare for the whole island. Changing the location and restricting the size is overdue. Although about 10% of the bikers are orderly, most good bikers stopped attending the event because the disorderly crowds have taken over. The current attendees trash The Strand, break gas lamps, urinate in public, and fight in the streets every year. It's just like Mardi Gras, the disorderly crowds takeover The Strand while merchants close their doors and sell beer out of windows. The large events have evolved into mostly teen agers, thugs and disorderly people. Regardless of these facts, the city manager just extended the promoter's contract and is seeking to continue giving permission for more promoters to dirty-up Galveston. The event vendors pour cooking grease down the street drains every year during Mardi Gras and the Rally. They leave the streets and sidewalks stained with grease and clogged the drains of the historic district with trash so flooding will be worse. Cleaning Galveston's image should begin by thinking different. Why are there no citywide public hearings on the promoter contracts that cause citywide mayhem? It's time for a change.

Bailey Jones

Galveston is dirty, and dated. I've never lived anywhere with so many decrepit and abandoned homes, or so much litter (or so little concern about it). But - compared to 10 or 15 years ago? Galveston is in full bloom. All around our neighborhood homes are being refurbished and remodeled. Great new funky local businesses seem to be popping up all the time. And I've made walking our street with a trash bag in hand part of my routine. It's the trend that counts - are things getting better, or getting worse? Getting better, from everything I see.

Tony Janca

Many people who have never been to Galveston will find the homes in deplorable condition, the home prices out of reach, and the demographics strongly represented by the working poor and demoralized unemployed. Those of us who are BOI’s and knew Galveston from the 40’s through the 60’s will remember a much cleaner more balanced “All American City” where the majority were true middle-class working citizens taking pride in their jobs and their homes. Even our public housing projects such as Island City Homes maintained cleaned lawns and well-kept properties.

For Galvestonians today to get back to level of “pride” in the community, several things need to happen.

1. The City of Galveston needs a strong Economic development team that will reach out to private companies and bring quality jobs back to the island. A paper mill for Pelican island, a major call center for Downtown, and a casino type development on the flats of the East end of the Island.

2. The Taxes paid to the Galveston County School System, needs to be based upon a performance basis and adjusted annually. If they cannot bring the test scores and quality of the graduating classes up then the tax is reduced. To fill the gap, the private school systems needs to be strengthened from grants from private enterprise.

3. The current property tax collected by the City is minimal but needs to modified to a reverse value-added basis. First by creating a very low basis ie the true value of the home less the land. Then taxing the land (the most expensive portion of the property) and finally a credit for value added improvements (renovations and or maintenance)

Bailey Jones

I'm guessing you've never lived next to a paper mill.

Tony Janca

Bailey Galveston has a strong southerly wind - it would be Texas City that would get the bulk of that

Miceal O'Laochdha

Mr. Janca: a (truly foul-smelling) paper mill can be located anywhere; preferably close to vast pine tree acreage. The very great value of Pelican Island comes from being deep water channel property one hour from the pilot station. Very little of that kind of available land left on the US Gulf, or either of the other coasts, for that matter. You are absolutely right that Pelican needs industrial development but, it needs to be the highest and best use, which in this case is Maritime.

Tony Janca

Michael I totally agree with you on The highest and best use , unfortunately, we have had little luck bringing in another “Todd Shipyards” with several hundred jobs. I know the faults of paper mills, but a recycling center to re use all of Houston’s recyclable’s waste paper is almost equal to a pine forest. However, that being said I would really prefer a clean high paying jobs of the oil and gas industries. LakeCharles is doing extremely well with the energy business - our problem is a multi prong problem but similar the issues Lake Charles has been faced with

Bailey Jones

You got an island. You got a steady breeze. You got windmill pieces arriving daily. Hmmmm.

Miceal O'Laochdha

Tony, you make an excellent comparison with Lake Charles. Refineries have flourished there since the days of Cities Service, despite the 5 hour trip up the Calcasieu River where a 500k barrel crude tanker has so little clearance under the keel that they are sucking mud and fish into the cooling water strainers and pulling cleaning them continuously all the way to the dock. And another 4 hour transit back out to sea. Pelican Island is an infinitely better location than Lake Charles and, since our area already has plenty of refineries, we can build a much cleaner Ro-Ro or LNG facility there; if only the will can be married to the capital investment.

Jim Casey

I have to agree with the conclusions of this survey—sadly. A bad impression requires a lot of effort and years to overcome.

I arrived here with my family in 1995. Looking at the last few miles of I-45 and 61st Street, I asked myself, what the hell have I gotten into? Abandoned buildings, overgrown vacant property, gas stations, and fast-food restaurants.

The decades since have brought enormous improvement to the public areas of town, Seawall Boulevard, the beach itself, and residential neighborhoods—for which private developers and government deserve credit.

But visitors to the island still have to deal with heavy traffic at times, a plethora of gas stations, convenience stores, and seedy motels. Commercial lots that could be thriving businesses are still vacant.

Don Schlessinger

Galveston is Galveston. What visitors see as they arrive on the island is a city living off tourists, and festivals. As far as cleanliness, the last time walked around Austin, especially the "Drag" looked more like skid row. What I've seen on our island doesn't compare to Austin.

Jim Casey

Fredericksburg depends upon tourism to a much greater extent than Galveston. It gives tourists a much better first impression. My guess is it doesn't have all the long-standing socioeconomic problems that Galveston has. Austin does have those problems. So does New Orleans, which is not all that pleasant to visit.

Anyway, the goal should be to be the best, not slightly better than the worst.

Wayne Holt

Much of what was mentioned both in the feature and the comments ring true. Today's beaches are infinitely cleaner even with many more visitors. In the 60s, your last stop out of town was the car wash to try to get the tar off the kids' feet.

Galveston is dirty? Been to Houston lately? Our streets are the Autobahn by comparison. Street cleaning downtown normally is outstanding and I, along with Bailey, will be pleased to have anyone join in just helping pick up litter a bit. Have some civic spirit, work on your waistline and enjoy the wonderful comments you'll receive.

BTW Just another opportunity to try to put a torpedo beneath the waterline on what should truthfully be named the Lone Star Bacchanalia and Eardrum Splitting Extravaganza. This is a rolling problem in search of a city dumb enough to continue year after year to invite in rival gangs, drug dealers, off the books vendors and a cross section of participants that look like the Golden Horde has crossed the Causeway.

Oh, that's right, I forgot. "WE" earned $15M booking 125,000 rooms on the island. That explains why every house in Galveston was forced to accept guests with the overflow shuttled to Neverland.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Thank you for Reading!

Please log in, or sign up for a new account and purchase a subscription to read or post comments.