John Carrara of The Goodman Corporation updated the Galveston Intermodal Transportation Committee on efforts by George Mitchell to purchase the parking lot on the northeast corner of 25th Street and The Strand from the Brown Family Trust so that the proposed Livable Communities Initiative Downtown Transportation Terminal can be located there.
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Carrara said that Mitchel Historic Properties would develop a new building with retail spaces and parking levels above the terminal space; and other amenities to meet federal guidelines and city requirements. He also updated the committee on commuter rail between Galveston and Downtown Houston.
"We're waiting for that to be brought to the city council for their consideration," Carrara said. "If they are amenable to that offer; or if they prefer that we go back to the previous alternative."
Several downtown merchants appeared before the committee to request that the second phase of the Livable Communities grant include a public restroom. Listen: RealPlayer MP3
The proposed location is on the southeast corner of the Wallace Parking Lot next to the Hendley Building on The Strand between 20th and 21st streets.
"This unit is basically a bathroom," said Tom LeCroy, a downtown restaurateur. "It's a porcelain toilet. You go in, you flush it, just like you go use the bathroom here."
LeCroy said the unit would be tied into the city's water and wastewater system. He said the owner of the property and the operator of the parking lot approve of the plan.
Carrara said the restroom could be included in the next phase of the LCI grant. Members of the committee, as well as city staff, are positive about the plan and it will be on the agenda for a formal vote at next month's meeting.
Island Transit Director Michael Worthy reported that ridership has been increasing since the system was devastated by Hurricane Ike.
"There is a plus on all routes, " Worthy said, admitting that the numbers are much lower than before Ike and that the track trolley still has not resumed operation since Ike.
He said the three E-buses, hybrids which were purchased in 1985 for 284,000 each and were intended to serve the University of Texas Medical Branch, the historic downtown Strand area and Seawall Boulevard, are not working properly.
Worthy said the three buses were badly damaged by Hurricane Ike, along with the trolley and much of the IT bus fleet.
The city's insurance only paid a portion of the estimated cost to restore the buses and repairs by the manufacturer have not been effective.
"We only have one right now that is running," he said. "Of course we are still encountering a lot of problems with that one."
Worthy had no prediction on when the buses would be put into service.
"We are still in recovery," he said.