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Galveston County
Galveston Downtown/UTMB Corridor Meeting
by Jim and Lynda Guidry
Thursday, January 19, 2012

Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski and University of Texas Medical Branch President Dr. David Callender hosted a meeting of interested stakeholders in the greater Downtown/UTMB corridor at City Hall on Wednesday.

“This is an opportunity as a mayor to call people together,” Jaworski said, first introducing Interim City Manager Tom Muehlenbeck for a report on city plans for the corridor. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer

“Clearly we would like to have the best quality of life for our faculty, staff and students,” Dr. Callender said, after reviewing plans for development of the campus. “We don’t want to build student housing.  We prefer that student and other forms of housing be developed by interests in the community.”  Listen: MP3 RealPlayer

Galveston Housing Authority Interim Executive Director Mona Perguson and Deyna Sims-Hobbdy reviewed plans for new housing where Magnolia Homes once stood. 
Listen:
MP3 RealPlayer

Roland Bassett, chair of the Board of Trustees of the Galveston Wharves, and Port of Galveston Director Steve Cernak reported on development of the Downtown Transportation Terminal.  Listen: MP3 RealPlayer

Mitchell Historic Properties Senior Vice President and General Manager Bill Ross updated the group on Mitchell's downtown properties and plans for Pier 21, which now extends from Pier 20 to Pier 22 and will include a boardwalk. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer

Historic Downtown Strand Seaport Partnership President Barbara Crews and representatives of Morris Architects discussed the Partnership's Livable Centers project.
Listen:
MP3  RealPlayer

"Here are our recommendations," said Christof Spieler of Morris Architects, listing pedestrian and bicycle way-finding, improved roads and rights-of-way and an improved trolley system.

John Carrara of The Goodman Corporation discussed the Galveston Livable Communities Initiative which has already provided amenities to the Downtown area and is coordinating the development of the Downtown Transportation Terminal.
Listen:
MP3 RealPlayer

Galveston Economic Development Partnership President Jeff Sjostrom said plans for the corridor pre-dated Hurricane Ike.  Listen: MP3 RealPlayer

UTMB is the end of The Strand,” Sjostrom said.  “We need folks to understand that and how it interconnects and how it relates to the overall linkage and corridor of the Strand area."

Park Board of Trustees Executive Director Kelly de Schaun reviewed the park board’s efforts to improve the image of the city as a tourist destination. Listen:
MP3  RealPlayer

"We are, fortunately, the second most popular attraction in the state of Texas, for those who did not know it - right behind the Alamo," she said, while noting that the average stay is only 1.6 days.  "What we are looking at is not necessarily more people but how do we get them to stay longer."

Ralph McMorris of the East End Historic District also made a presentation to the group.
Listen:
MP3  RealPlayer

Following the meeting, Mayor Jaworski said that he was pleased and plans to schedule similar meetings in the future.




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