Editor’s note: Below is the text of a letter The Daily News submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about its Tentatively Selected Plan for a coastal storm barrier. The letter was submitted as part of the corps’ official public comment period, which is scheduled to end Jan. 9.
Dear Colonel Zetterstrom:
The Daily News respectfully requests the proposed Tentatively Selected Plan be re-evaluated in order to more accurately represent the wishes of Galveston County residents.
Additionally, the feedback and the public comment period should remain open beyond the January 9, 2019 deadline to allow for a wider, more representative volume of commenting.
The proposed plan is not within the wishes of the participating community. We recommend this project to be paused and informatively re-evaluated to better match the wishes of Galveston County.
While we appreciate the desire to engineer a powerful defensive project to protect life and property, we also highly value the quality of life of our communities. These projects threaten to dramatically alter the living landscape beyond reasonable recognition. By doing so, the projects threaten the unique quality of life this region represents.
First of all, the so-called ring levee aspect of the proposed plan is offensive and impractical to those who live on Galveston Island. To create man-made barriers separating neighbors from neighbors is a non-starter. Furthermore, building barriers along state highways and leaving others exposed, is equally a non-starter.
Our community is looking for manageable storm mitigation choices — not dramatically altering both the face and living choices of the island forever. This applies for the residents of Bolivar Peninsula, as you witnessed in the December 15th meeting.
Secondly, we ask you to base your re-evaluation on environmentally less impactful designs such as dune development and less obtrusive surge protection. Doing so will reduce the full brunt of any potential storm, but also protect the unique quality of life along the coastline.
Finally, we respect the fact man is no match for Mother Nature. We can build what we wish, but we also know from experience the force and fury these storms can unleash on our communities. The Great Storm of 1900, Hurricane Ike in 2008 and most recently Hurricane Harvey in 2017 are forever etched in our memories and character.
We are looking for a balance of mitigating the full effects of storms on human life first and property second, balanced with maintaining the unique quality of life our communities afford.
Please take the strong and vocal opinions of those attending and reaching out into consideration as you revisit the the plan. We are counting on you to deliver an effective and balanced proposal we can broadly support across our community.
Thank you for your serious consideration of these requests.
Leonard Woolsey, Publisher
The Daily News