Many plans about Galveston’s future have come and many have gone over the past 20 or so years. Many of those past plans came and went without leaving much of a mark.
The people behind Vision Galveston’s planning are aware of that history and acknowledge it will influence how people react to their efforts, which were unveiled in a series of events Thursday.
The Vision Galveston team has taken steps to ensure this plan doesn’t end up on a shelf somewhere gathering dust, however, Keath Jacoby, a program director for Vision Galveston, said.
And some of the differences between Vision Galveston’s plan and past plans are fairly clear and objective.
For one thing, the group has worked hard to get direction from a wide, diverse sample of the island’s population. However else the effort might ultimately be judged, it has not been a top-down process driven by consultants from out of town.
The group set out to gather input from people representing all ethnic groups and economic categories and living all over the island and appears to have been successful in that.
Another difference is that Vision Galveston secured commitments to participate in the recommendations from the island’s main public institutions — the city, the Park Board of Trustees, the public school district, Texas A&M University at Galveston, University of Texas Medical Branch and the Galveston Economic Development Partnership, to name a few.
That alone puts this effort ahead of some others that were developed apart from those key players and which never got their support after the fact.
A third difference is that Vision Galveston has at least initial commitments for financial support from among some of the island’s charitable foundations.
This effort differs from others in that the organization that drafted the plan will continue to exist and work to ensure that the various partners stay focused on the recommendations.
Having witnessed so many interesting plans die after they were handed off to a city council or some other group with no mandate or much inclination toward implementation, it’s hard to over-estimate how important that difference is.
The group also has been savvy enough to pick an initial project that can be successfully completed fairly quickly.
That first project is to establish a community development corporation, a nonprofit, non-governmental entity that would include a land trust component for developing long-term community assets; and formation of a Revitalization Authority to acquire, hold and sell vacant properties strategically for high-quality residential and commercial development that meets community needs.
Look for more details about Vision Galveston’s recommendations in the news pages today and even more on Sunday.
The bottom line today is that the group should be commended for a successful launch of a worthy project.
People in Galveston are a skeptical bunch by nature and have good reason to be especially skeptical about grand plans for the future.
Generally, the editors share that trait. This effort seems different, however — it strikes us as more organic, more home-grown and more likely to achieve some enduring good.
• Michael A. Smith