I served on Galveston City Council from 2008 to 2010 and again from 2014 to 2016.
On Nov. 19, 2015, I voted with six other council members, including the mayor, to authorize Galveston’s City Manager Brian Maxwell to sign a contract with Texas General Land Office, obligating the remaining $38.5 million of Round 2.2 funds to complete various projects essential to the city’s recovery from Hurricane Ike.
On Nov. 23, 2015, Maxwell signed a contract with the land office that stated in part: “The city shall renovate the Galveston Water and Electric Light Station for ‘public use’ to benefit the neighborhood surrounding the Galveston Housing Authority’s new Cedar and Carver Park neighborhood.”
Now, this tremendously brief commentary will focus only on the federal disaster relief funds that were used for Cedar Terrace, a community that was heavily damaged by Hurricane Ike on Sept. 13, 2008.
Who would’ve thought that once the Galveston Water and Electric Light Station was completed at a price of $2.9 million of federal relief funds, Maxwell would push forward his plan to rob the poorest neighborhood in the city of Galveston of a community center.
In addition, for over six years, he willfully overlooked various infrastructure projects such as new curbs, sidewalks and street lights that’s so desperately needed in that low- to moderate-income neighborhood.
However, with the stroke of a taxpayer pen, Maxwell literally took a federally restored historic pump station built in 1888 that was overhauled to serve Cedar Terrace and Carver Park neighborhoods and converted it into a sanctuary for his city marshal department without any remorse.
Now that Juneteenth is a national holiday, the majority of the residents who live in the Cedar Terrace and Carver Park neighborhoods are signing the Galveston County Coalition for Justice’s petitions to use the community center — that has never been open to the public — for a national Juneteenth museum.
But, Maxwell and Mayor Craig Brown are tossing around their unwelcome ideas to use the second floor of the Old Central High School as a Juneteenth museum.
Both Maxwell and Brown have known for years that Old Central High School had the distinction of being the oldest African American high school in Texas. They know that the facility is in desperate need of major repairs that’s necessary to come into compliance with the International Building Code.
They also know that the building doesn’t have an elevator to carry people to the second floor to visit their so-called Juneteenth museum.
Galveston is the birthplace of Juneteenth and the location of a Juneteenth museum at the city’s historic 30th Street Pump Station would get Galveston out in front of all the other Juneteenth museums springing up throughout the country.
But more importantly, the ready-to-move-in 6,800-square-foot facility located in the Cedar Terrace and Carver Park neighborhoods wouldn’t cost Galveston taxpayers one thin dime.
Please sign the coalition’s petition or contact your city council representative if you agree that Galveston should take the lead on a national Juneteenth museum.
The struggle continues ...