Babe's Beach dedicated for former Texas Senator A.R. "Babe" Schwartz

Visitors walk along Babe’s Beach on May 26, 2016. The stretch of beach west of 61st Street, was named in honor of former Texas Sen. A.R. “Babe” Schwartz.

At $750,000, the investment by the Galveston Island Park Board to help fund a project that would put up to 900,000 cubic yards of sand on local beaches is a bargain and one to support.

Trustees unanimously voted to use $750,000 from reserve funds. The Texas General Land Office also has committed $7.75 million to the project. The Galveston Industrial Development Corp. also pledged $2 million.

Beach reconstruction is a big deal — particularly on an island. Nature has a way of ebbing and flowing sand back and forth because of naturals tides, storms, and even an occasional hurricane. Beaches along Galveston Island will always be in motion.

The process of beach reconstruction is essentially moving available sand from point (or points) A — where it is not wanted, and depositing it at point B — where it is wanted and can serve beneficial purposes. Consider this a recycling program, of sorts.

Case in point, the remarkable beach reconstruction projects completed on the island in the past several years have transformed beachfront along a significant part of the tourist-attracting seawall. Not only did the projects change the face of large swaths of beachfront, but they also provided additional safety during storms and other weather events.

In addition to protection from storm surge, visitors enjoy seeing the new beaches, park board Trustee Victor Viser said.

“They were astounded by Babe’s Beach,” Viser said. “It’s just such a positive for the community.”

The Babe’s Beach project, which begins just west of 61st Street and is named after former lawmaker A.R. “Babe” Schwartz, benefited both residents and tourists, board Secretary Maureen Patton said.

“It’s also been a huge boon to the economy,” Patton said. “We are doing something amazing for the community. I think they feel like it’s theirs.”

Now the Army Corps of Engineers has identified a significant amount of sand it needs to move from the Galveston ship channel to ensure safe passage for commercial and other traffic. And while the cost of the project is estimated to be $10.5 million, the park board can get in the game for $750,000 — 7.1 percent of the project cost.

The sand should be enough to begin beach construction from 61st to 90th streets, park board Executive Director Kelly de Schaun said.

“We’ll head toward the pier at 81st Street, and pull back from the pier and then we’ll jump to the end of the seawall where we can mobilize equipment,” de Schaun said.

Taking advantage of these opportunities is important for the island. Key to this opportunity is that the large volume of sand available will hold down the overall project cost. From a cost structure, the up-front costs of setting up to spread the sand on the beach are far greater than the cost of the sand, de Schaun said.

The park board, along with city and land office partners, completed three sand replacement projects in recent years between 10th Street and the Dellanera RV Park for more than $45 million.

The 2019 project would start in April or May and should be finished by mid-summer, de Schaun said.

This type of project — and investment by the park board — is exactly the type of economic investment that needs to continue. Beach reconstruction allows for the island to improve beachfronts along the seawall at a fraction of what the might otherwise be. Factor in the additional buffer against weather events, and it is difficult to argue against such an investment.

• Leonard Woolsey

Leonard Woolsey: 409-683-5207; leonard.woolsey@galvnews.com

President & Publisher

(11) comments

Ray Taft

Galveston’s leadership needs to think outside the box. Time to stop doing what was always done because that is the way it was always done.

Isn’t it time to stop the endless dumping of sand on Galveston beaches only to see it wash away again and again. Instead of restoration shouldn’t Galveston and the state of Texas try prevention.

There have been many ideas floated in The Daily News. Here are a few:
- ‘Undercurrent of beach erosion responses,’ Jul 8, 2008
- ‘A solution to restore Galveston beaches,’ Mar 5, 2012
- ‘Expert breaking waves to save beaches,’ Oct 24, 2007

Galveston’s beaches were once bountiful. No doubt that there are other locales locates worldwide that faced this same problem and solved it. Get help.

George Croix

When state taxpayers money is used to build parks and inland recreation areas or dig a big lake or to replenish forests, the money spent yields facilities or areas that are there for decades and require only routine maintenance.
When used to put sand on Galveston beaches, the lifespan is measured in years when lucky, or months when not.
So, Leonard is absolutely right.....it IS a bargain for Galveston to get in on the sharing, especially when it's over 90%, and most so because it will all have to be done over again in two or 3 years, give or take a bit.....

Steve Fouga

It would be interesting to compare the "usage hours per construction/maintenance dollar" and the "economic benefit per construction/maintenance dollar" (two terms I just made up), of large inland recreational areas to those of Galveston beaches.

My educated guess is that ANY beach renourishment is a bargain for Galveston and the State, considering that Galveston's beaches routinely bring more than 5 million visitors to the Island annually. Based on recent projects, it costs maybe $50M every 5 years to keep the beaches in shape... That's about $10M per year, or $2 per tourist visit. If each tourist spends about 4 hours per visit on the beach, it costs the taxpayer roughly 50 cents per hour, per tourist, to provide the beach experience. One would hope the tourists return more economic benefit than this, to the City and State.

And yes, in that light, this particular project is a HUGE bargain for Galveston. I hope it is done in a way that creates a reliably available beach (meaning almost always above water) from the west end of Babe's Beach to Dellanera Park. Then Galveston would have uninterrupted beach from the Ship Channel to the Pass.

Jim Forsythe

Steve, here's two that you may like. To me , Matt become part of his music. Popa also has that type of playing that the performer get lost in while playing. Popa , also puts a new spin on Hey Joe. What is your take?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WW9G_9nZlSM
POPA CHUBBY - Hey Joe !

This is not the same Devil's Bride" as Electric Wizard sang.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=noYnK9KZXAA
"Devil's Bride" - Matt Andersen

Steve Fouga

Well, like before, you've caused me to spend some money adding music to my collection. 🎧[smile]🎧

I think that's my favorite rendition of 'Hey Joe.' Thanks, Jim! [thumbup][cool]

George Croix

That sounds pretty good on the surface, except it's not a direct comparison.
There's no state entry fee to the beaches, while there is a fee for all state parks and many other state funded sites so, so the state gets zero back in direct income from the beaches. Many state facilities also have state run venues for refreshments and supplies and such, and also derive some benefit from that - none for beaches.
BUT, it MAY well be that beach goers spend more/generate more state sales/HOT tax monies that visitors to other facilities .....maybe. Possible. It's also so that a lot of bucks gets spent in areas surrounding state venues by visitors to those places, too.
BUT x 2, those other facilities don't NEED a 10 million buck a year (or more, if a storm reclaims the beach) infusion of cash just for them to continue to exist, as they are unlikely to be washed out to sea routinely or be wiped out by a storm typically.
So the costs of the need to replenish sand, maintenance, quite likely exceed the costs for maintenance inland.
Be interesting to know what the actual numbers are.
Maybe somebody does.....
It IS a bargain for Galveston, especially since it's one they get often from the State, especially compared to multi-million buck projects elsewhere for tourist venues, to do the same things over again while knowing there will be no different outcome.

George Croix

ps:
Maybe...maybe...it would be a better use, as Ray said above, of a couple million of those bucks to 'study' how to NOT keep losing the darn sand year after year after year after year after...then do a fix, in whole or part....
I'm pretty sure if the State had to pour 10 million bucks into it's inland facilities just to keep them on the map yearly there would be some action taken to mitigate that.....
Most likely, the answer is purely political....as most answers usually are.....

Chris Tucker

Rarely does a money spending visitor say to the family, "Hey lets load everyone up and drive to Galveston to sit, play and swim at the NON-beach!" Beaches bring visitors....visitors spend money. Just saying.

George Croix

Of course they do.
So does every other state funded attraction, none of which wash away every year...[wink]

Jim Forsythe

Galveston will always have a problem with the sand , unless they change the way we retain the sand.Galveston can continue to replace sand and have tourist or have less sand and have less tourist.
“You can almost never have enough sand on your beaches, because nature most surely will cause it to erode,” spokeswoman Raelin Storey said. “These kinds of projects help to protect our coastal economy and our tourist industry.”
Galveston is not the only place that replaces sand.
More sand is on the way for beaches In south Broward County that took a hit from Hurricane Irma last year. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to spend $9.7 million in January to truck in and replenish about 123,000 cubic yards of sand — enough to cover a football field with sand 57 feet high — lost during the storm on beaches south of Port Everglades.The beaches were renourished in 2016, a $55.6 million project that was 20 years in the making. It involved about 700,000 cubic yards of sand that filled 38,000 dump trucks.

George Croix

Using your figures, Florida is getting more for it's buck, as far as time between similar expenditures.....
Maybe a consultant from there should be called to come here.....
Or, just don't worry, be happy.....it's just more OPM anyway.....[beam][beam][beam]

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