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Ones who use the beach should pay for plan

By Heber Taylor
The Daily News

Published August 08, 2004

Here’s a little secret about Galveston’s new beach access plan: It’s going to cost some money.

The plan to guarantee that the public will have adequate access to the beaches is going to require the city to build some walkovers through the dunes and put up bollards to control parking on the beach.

It’s low-tech stuff, but each good parking area with a wooden bridge through the dunes might run about $100,000.

Putting in 41 beach access points over the next 10 years probably will cost millions. It’s also going to cost some money to keep the improvements clean and in good repair.

Who’s going to pay?

Either people who use the beach will pay, or Galveston residents will get stuck with the bill.

There is one excellent reason to let the beach user pick up the tab: That’s fair.

The whole idea of the beach access plan was that the public has the right to get to the beaches. The “public” means everyone â€" all Texas residents and their guests.

They have this privilege as a matter of state law.

Given that’s the law, it makes no sense to restrict the responsibility of paying for that privilege to Galveston residents.

It’s hard to imagine why anyone would think that homeowners in Galveston should have to pay to keep up parking areas and walkovers for everyone in Texas.

Because of city budget deadlines, City Manager Steve LeBlanc included $40,000 â€" the minimum to get the plan started â€" in his proposed budget.

However, there is no way Galveston taxpayers should be on the hook for that bill, and the city council and park board are scheduled to have a joint discussion this week on how to fund the plan.

If the beach access plan is to be funded by beach-user fees, the Park Board of Trustees is the logical agency to handle the money.

It’s already in the business. Unlike the city, the park board has accounting systems in place to collect and monitor beach-user fees.

Everyone knows the park board collects daily fees at its beach parks. Less well known is that the park board also has a $25 annual pass.

It could extend that same system of fees and passes to the beaches on the West End.

That seems like a sensible solution.

One final note: If all this sounds like the beach access plan is a nuisance, banish that thought.

Having a plan allows the city to apply for grants to protect beaches and repair damage from erosion. It allows the city to continue collecting beach-user fees through the park board. It allows the city to set its own standards for development, as opposed to accepting more restrictive state rules.

Galveston should have had such a plan years ago, and it should celebrate the approval of this plan as a huge triumph. Charging beach-user fees to put the plan in place is small price for victory.

One final note: Wendy O’Donohoe and her staff in the planning and development department deserve an award for seeing this plan through constant revisions, the result of countless compromises among the bewildering variety of groups interested in the island’s beaches.

The battle to get state approval for the city’s plan lasted longer than the Trojan War. It was tedious, thankless work.

The plan is finally in place. We say “thanks.”
 

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At several preliminary meetings, City Planning suggested each subdivision provide and pay for the parking lots and walkovers. Don't think that'll fly!
 

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@Drew_Smoke
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I'll pay for vehiculiar access. Thats not unreasonable especially if it would be kept up with trash cans ect., and the law would be around more. I ain't walking and dragging my stuff. Very few will...
 

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Well, I have come up with two separate responses to this now and I after reading through them for typos, I just couldn't post them. The reason? They were too intelligent to respond to such self-serving drivel. I have rarely been as compelled a I am right now to just sit back and watch this. Sad thing is, when it all blows up in their faces, the pols and their henchmen (O'Donahoe and company) will just get new jobs and this debacle will be reduced to the accomplishments section on their resumes. It is the people of Galveston and the beach going public that will end up footing the bill one way or another. I better stop now or I won't be able to post this one either.

FC
 

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I'm goin' elsewhere where I can drive on the beach. Crystal Beach or Bolivar or Surfside. They can make the tourists pay the fees. That's the tourists they want to come to the island in the first place.
 
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