Galveston City Council on Thursday voted 4-3, with Elizabeth Beeton, Norman Pappous and Terrilyn Tarlton opposed, to approve beach nourishment easements and dune protection easements along Galveston beaches.
The easements are a step in a beach nourishment project including the Dellanara RV Parkand Seascape area.
Funding for the project, which totals more than $4 million comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the General Land Office, the Galveston Industrial Development Corporation, the Galveston Park Board of Trustees and private landowners.
Kelly de Schaun, executive director of the park board, spoke in favor of the project.
“Several of you might remember that the highest erosion rate on the island is at the end of the Seawall, and there was fear during Hurricane Ike that the island might actually breach there,” de Schaun said. “By nourishing this beach, we are protecting the island from that erosion, and we were protecting the only evacuation route from the west end, which is FM 3005.” Listen (2 minutes, 29 seconds)
Those opposed to the item sought to obtain rolling easements from the Seascape Owners' Association as opposed to static easements. A rolling easement allows an easement to “roll back” due to beach erosion.
“I think we should be requiring rolling easements from these property owners at the end of the Seawall,” Beeton said. “What's being proposed is that public funds will be used to add sand to their private property.” Listen (32 minutes, 26 seconds)
Beeton also noted her concern with public funds being used to maintain the project in the future.
“At that point, the public will be in a position of going "hat in hand" to these three property owners, who are going to benefit tremendously by this beach renourishment of their property, and ask them to amend the static easement to reflect the changes in the beach that have occurred through erosion, but the city will have no leverage at that point.”
Tarlton agreed, and was concerned that allowing a static easement for this project would make it difficult for the city to require rolling easements in the future.
Pappous noted his concerns of public money being used on private property.
“I still have a problem basically granting a government subsidy to certain units west of the Seawall that are not available to other structures west of the Seawall, and so I can't vote for this,” Pappous said.
Mayor Lewis Rosen said the project was necessary due to the erosion issues at the area, and that the project's goal was mostly to protect the Seawall.
“It's not an option, it's something we must do to protect the Seawall,” Rosen said.
The city council voted 3-3, with Beeton, Tarlton, and Pappous opposed, on a motion to approve an interlocal agreement between the city, the Galveston Park Board of Trustees, and the Seascape Owners' Association, Inc. for a beach nourishment project. The item failed due to not having the four required votes for approval. (Council Member Cornelia Harris Banks had left the meeting prior to the vote.)
The council had initially voted 4-2, with only Pappous and Beeton opposed, to approve the item. Tarlton then asked to reconsider the item, as she had voted by accident for approval. Tarlton said she had not known what item the council was voting on at the time.
After a review by the city attorney, the vote was taken again.
The city council voted 4-3, with Marie Robb, Tarlton and Banks opposed, to approve a motion to increase water tap fees to $650 for a standard residential size meter, approximately one-third above current costs, and sewer taps to $500, effective January 31. Other size water taps will be increased by a similar percentage.
The item came about for discussion regarding the costs of water and sewer tap installations. City staff had recommended a water tap fee of $1,820 to recover costs. Listen (37 minutes, 51 seconds)
Council Member Rusty Legg disagreed with raising prices to that extent, noting increases in water and sewer rates for citizens.
“Our citizens, they've been hit so much since the storm,” Legg said. “I know we need an increase, and maybe we next year we can look at it again, but I can't hit it all at one time - that amount of money.”
Council members Marie Robb and Tarlton both asked for the item to be deferred to study the prices and costs further. Legg and others noted that other cities had lower costs than proposed in the total increase.
Pappous was in favor of charging the entire increase to offset the city's costs.
“I don't understand how come we go off other cities' charges, when we're looking at our costs right here,” Pappous said. “Why would we even figure our cost if we're just going to go off what other cities do?”
The city council voted 5-1, with Mayor Lewis Rosen opposed, to permit overnight parking/camping in the area of 25th Street through 21st Street and Seawall Boulevard from October 31 through November 4 in association with the Lone Star Rally.
The city council voted 5-0-1, with Rusty Legg abstaining, to award a $548,000 contract to Ardent Construction, LLC for the construction of the Historic Building Front Preservation Project at 2309-11 Strand. The project will be funded 75 percent by Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Grant Program Round 1 funding and 25 percent by the owner of the approved site.
The city council voted 5-0-1, with Legg abstaining, to award a $610,000 contract to Arde Construction, LLC for the construction of the Historic Building Front Preservation Project at 2417-19 Strand.
The city council voted unanimously to table action regarding funding for the Galveston Clean Team. The item was tabled to allow staff to further study the possibility of using 4B Sales Tax funds for the Clean Team, and to determine overall increases to sanitation bills to fund the service.
The city council deferred until March action concerning the placement of a four-way stop at Market Street and 12th Street. Pappous had requested the item due to accidents at the intersection during the past year.
The city council voted unanimously to approve a $25 per day increase for Municipal Court Judge Jim Schweitzer for each day he conducts court or attends training. The increase brings Schweitzer's total compensation to $275 per day.
The city council voted 5-1, with Beeton opposed, to request that the Galveston Island Redevelopment Authority attorney get a second opinion before writing any letters. The item was associated with an executive session discussion held during the council's workshop.
The city council voted 5-1, with Beeton opposed, to keep information in the internal audit plan private until completed, and to be made available to the public following a report to the city council.
The city council voted unanimously to direct that no department heads conduct investigations into their own departments when there is evidence of waste, abuse, fraud, or theft.
The city council voted unanimously to move Diana Bertini and John Graham from alternate positions to regular positions on the Building Standards Commission. The city council voted unanimously to appoint Chris Arneson and Juan Carcano to the alternate positions on the Building Standards Commission. The city council also voted unanimously to reappoint John McNatt to the board.
The city council voted unanimously to appoint Camille Aqui, Christine Arcari and Elizabeth Torres regular members and Christine Miller as an alternate member on the Families Children and Youth Board.
A motion to remove two alternate position members from the board was rescinded, and may be considered again pending contact with the two members, who had not attended recent meetings.
All other items were approved by unanimous vote. All members were present, with Banks leaving the meeting early due to another commitment. Agenda
During the meeting, the city issued a proclamation designating October as Substance Abuse Prevention Month. Representatives from the Galveston Community Coalition were present to accept the proclamation. News Release