Galveston County Commissioners Court today met in workshop with officials from Dickinson regarding renewal of the county’s contract with the Festival of Lights at Paul Hopkins Park. Listen
“Some of the issues that we are considering right now is that the event continues to grow in popularity and currently attracts hundreds to thousands of visitors per night and hundreds of thousands per season,” said Parks and Senior Services Director Kelly Snook, who is recommending that the county not approve a new five year contract for the festival after this year’s event. “In addition, the permanent and temporary structures have increased since the last agreement, as well as several new requests for improvements to the park, including a $55,000 ramp into the park for pedestrian traffic, expansion of a small foot bridge that’s currently in the park to allow for the safe movement of people during the event and numerous electrical improvements.”
Snook also cited problems with traffic and safety due to the event and recommended relocating it to Ray Holbrook Park which is across the street from Dickinson High School.
“We are really perplexed that we are here, quite frankly,” said Dickinson City Council Member Kerry Neves, speaking for supporters of the event. “The three of you who were here five years ago when we came and got renewed will recall that Judge Yarbrough said that as long as we wanted it we have a five year contract every time we come.”
Neves said that there has never been an accident at the park, stressing that the work of volunteers and the establishment of the Festival of Lights have helped to improve the park for families since it was known as Piffle Park in the 1990s when “it was a place that gay guys could go and meet fellow gay guys”.
Speaking only for himself, Neves said that it would be unacceptable to move the event to Holbrook Park.
“If we are not allowed to use Paul Hopkins Park, I will vote to disband the festival,” Neves said. “We cannot do it at that (Holbrook) park. It won’t work. It’s not ADA (compliant). There are no sidewalks.”
At least three members of the commissioners court were supportive of the festival. Patrick Doyle suggested that the county give the park to the City of Dickinson and support it financially.
“The local folks know what to do with their park better than we do,” Doyle said, noting that the county has been concentrating on regional parks and let cities control the smaller parks in their areas.
The renewal of the Festival of Lights contract will be on a future commissioners court agenda for action.
During its regular meeting, the commissioners court voted unanimously to approve a memorandum of understanding between Habitat for Horses, Inc., Galveston County and the Galveston County Sheriff relating to horses in times of a declared disaster. Listen
“As you know, it was an issue during Ike,” said Emergency Management Coordinator David Popoff. “We actually had to put in a request to FEMA during Hurricane Ike to ask for cowboys.“
The commissioners court voted 4-1, with Kevin O’Brien opposed, to approve a budget transfer to cover purchase of furniture for personnel in the parks department.
The commissioners court voted unanimously to deny most requests for waiver/refund of penalty and interest for the delinquent payment of ad valorem taxes, but granted a waiver requested by Boyd Thomure, granted a waiver requested by Jan Player and Harriet Dues and granted a waiver requested by Roger W. Peters; and granted partial waivers requested by Jessie Bryant, Jr. and Gerald and Frances Gambino. Listen
The commissioners court voted unanimously to defer action on a request for waiver/refund of P&I requested by Liaw Mean-Ling and Yong-Fanng Kuo.
The commissioners court voted unanimously to defer action on an agenda item related to the purchase of Panasonic Toughbooks for the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office.
The commissioners court voted unanimously to approve resolutions honoring the retirement of Sharron Weatherly and Charles Hughes from the Galveston County Parks and Senior Services Department.
The commissioners court voted unanimously to approve a resolution recognizing the 27th Annual POW/MIA Observance in Columbus Texas on September 22 "expressing support for the accounting and return of all POW/MIAs".
All other agenda items were approved unanimously. All members were present.