Since Texas Parks & Wildlife Department started reconstruction of the south side of the Galveston Island State Park, I hadn’t been inside the gates to see progress.
I had to rein my curiosity about all the commotion going on when I passed by on FM 3005 at least weekly, but on May 2, the park’s superintendent, Hans Haglund, drove me around the south side of the park.
My, how things changed. One thing didn’t. About 1/4 mile past 13 Mile Road on FM 3005, you’ll still be greeted by the same large concrete caricature of a wind-blown live oak that marked the original entry.
Immediately inside the entry, the new road makes an arcing “S” curve westward splitting to wrap around the Tyvek-clad shell of a large, frame building, the new park headquarters.
From the middle of its length, a day-use toll booth juts out into the roadway. At its west end, before the road remerges, is a paved parking lot sufficient for RV renters, information seekers and park store patrons.
Shortly after the merge, a huge parking area on the left leads to an expansive, grassy day-use space that’s bare now but will soon hold picnic shelters and on-ground and elevated camping spaces.
At $5 a head for all 12 and older, this is a great revenue source. Three wooden walkways lead over dunes to a broad 1 1/2 miles of firmly packed sandy beach. The north side of the road holds an extremely large grassy lot to handle overflow on very nice weather and holiday weekends. No structures are in yet, but all underground work is done.
The road curves continually westward and is roughly parallel and close to FM 3005 past an RV human waste dump station on the left, and next to it are three rows of 20 RV stations jutting beachward.
Another Tyvek-clad building shell at the south end will house showers and restrooms for the RVers. Next on the left, a very large flat grassland/wetlands dedicated to primitive and platform tent camping stretches to the wetlands fronting the dunes. Another loop of 10 RV spaces fronts the road.
The roadway ends at a specially surfaced staging area for riders to bring horses onto the beach, but only during the winter months and no horses overnight. City regulations say equestrians can go anywhere on the beach, but they’re urged to clean up after the horses.
All these activity areas are west of the entry and south of the road. Everything east and a 1/4-mile stretch west of the road remains grasslands and wetlands. Unfortunately for us old folks, the only way to see the marshy swale band fronting the dunes is by natural surface hiking trails that loop around.
When will they be done? The contractor estimated a year from now, and the whole park will be open in June 2022, Haglund said.