This is an exciting time to be associated with the Galveston Park Board of Trustees. The organization recently won a prestigious award from the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association for a beach renourishment project completed in 1995. Park Board staff is preparing for a holiday season chock full of events and activities, decorations and performances that will attract visitors and enhance residents’ holiday experiences.

As park board chairman, I want to share my thoughts, plans and hopes for Galveston Island and the Park Board of Trustees.

As a visitor who moved to Galveston, I feel I have the full experience of Galveston and appreciate the efforts of the park board. I pay property and sales taxes as a resident, I work in the tourism industry, and I participate with the Galveston park board in managing the tourism industry that helps support our community.

Until I began working with the park board, I wasn’t aware that tourism-driven tax proceeds offset residents’ tax burdens.

In 2017, tourism-driven state and local tax proceeds of $82.8 million helped offset the average household tax burden by more than $4,000.

And, revenues from tourism in the forms of sales and property taxes account for nearly half of the city of Galveston’s general fund. This is great news! But, what if we could leverage more island assets and reduce the city of Galveston’s expenses even further?

Imagine our island having better coastal access and more facilities like fishing piers, boat and kayak launches. Now imagine letting the park board manage and operate these assets that residents can enjoy and the tourists pay for.

As I review why the Park Board of Trustees was created more than 50 years ago, it’s clear that it’s for this very reason. The park board was entrusted to manage and expand its tourism assets while ensuring that Galveston’s residents wouldn’t be expected to foot the bill. Thank you, Babe Schwartz, for having this vision.

According to a Nov. 1 article in The Galveston County Daily News about the city of Galveston’s asset review, some city officials are seeking more scrutiny over the park board citing a lack of transparency and accountability (“Draft agreement gives city more control of island park board,” The Daily News, Nov. 1).

I can assure you the park board is a responsible steward of assets and funds entrusted to the organization. Reporting to the city, state and other organizations is done accurately, and is audited every year by a third-party firm.

In fact, anyone can visit our website to see our budgets, audits, revenues and expenditures. None of the trustees earns a salary from the park board. All park board meetings are open to the public and recorded. Talk about open and transparent governing!

I invite everyone to the next park board meeting on Nov. 13, or our joint meeting with the city council on Nov. 15.

Spencer Priest is chairman of the Galveston Park Board of Trustees.

Locations

(3) comments

Steve Fouga

"Imagine our island having better coastal access and more facilities like fishing piers, boat and kayak launches."

I don't have to imagine it; I grew up experiencing it.

I remember fishing from piers off of Boddeker. I remember being able to wadefish from the beach at Boddeker, and park near enough to the water on Seawolf Pkwy to wade near the park or launch a kayak there. In the 'old days' it was easier to wade or launch near SLP, as well. In fact, it was easier to fish anywhere along the West Bay shoreline than it is now.

I say go for it, Park Board. Give us back the access we used to take for granted, or at least as much of it as practical.

Don Schlessinger

It'll cost you Steve.

Steve Fouga

Probably, Don. I expect piers to charge. I wouldn't mind paying to park along Seawolf Pkwy to fish there, same as I pay to park on Seawall.

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