It’s peak season on the island, which means taking the one-ways and avoiding the seawall as we welcome thousands of visitors each weekend. While we long for those quiet and cool fall days, it’s a constant reminder that “tourism pays” in Galveston.

As I enter into my last term as a trustee, I wanted to take this opportunity to share, with my fellow residents, what I see as the next chapter for the Park Board of Trustees.

In fiscal year 2019-20, you will see the park board look for more opportunities that would allow our visitors to help pay for services they’re currently using, and remove that burden from the taxpayer. Visitor fees collected from using boat launches, fishing piers, sports complexes, concessions and event parking are all appropriate revenues to dedicate back to offsetting city costs in areas that are immersed with tourism.

For example, while it may not make sense to use hotel occupancy taxes to pay for police and fire, the park board could easily help offset the cost of maintaining thoroughfares commonly traveled by our visitors. These are first impressions vital to creating an experience that leaves them wanting to return, with any hope as residents.

We’re an established organization that has done a phenomenal job of promoting Galveston; however, we do agree that it’s time for us to become laser focused on managing the tourism we have. While our new direction will allow us to concentrate internally on developing our destination, we still have an obligation to continue promoting Galveston on the national stage.

Henry Ford once said stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time. Eventually, it will catch up to you. As a barrier island “off the coast of Texas,” Galveston will always be a tourist destination. Visitors employ our residents, sustain our businesses, and fund our development. We will continue to protect that through targeted and smart marketing efforts.

Now let’s rake up the seaweed discussion. Whether it’s a nuisance or beneficial, the debate has continued on how we manage it. On one hand, baby sea turtles, crabs, shrimp, seahorses call this living and breathing organism home.

On the other, owners have invested millions into properties for residential or rental use with the expectation of having a clean beach to enjoy. Simply put, there’s no easy solution. Rest assured, however, that we’re making every effort to work toward one together, as a community.

We continue to be an organization of residents, local community leaders, and stakeholders for Galveston. When topics arise, we’re interested in your feedback. We want you involved in the process.

As we move into this next fiscal year, let’s collectively make a commitment to staying plugged into the work that our three organizations, the Park Board, the city, and the Port of Galveston are doing, and how we can contribute. For us as trustees, we will continue to ensure that “tourism pays” in Galveston.

To stay plugged in, follow our website at www.galvestonparkboard.org or connect with us on social media.

Spencer Priest is chair of the Park Board of Trustees.

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(1) comment

Wayne Holt

I am one of the residents Mr. Priest here asks to participate by voicing concerns to the board; I did so earlier this year. I found Mr. Priest, and the board in general, to be open to a wide range of opinions about a better balance between residents and tourists. There was a productive exchange and even those board members who disagreed with me did so in a positive way. Thank you for your service, Mr. Priest, and thanks to ALL of those who serve on the many boards and commissions the city utilizes. It is a lot of work and can be thankless at times. We sometimes miss the forest (of progress) by getting hung up on the trees (individual issues that arise from time to time).

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