For those of us who went through Hurricane Ike and were part of the rescue and recovery efforts afterwards, it was easy to think that things would never get back to normal.
On Monday afternoon at the Casa Del Mar listening to Kelly de Schaun, Executive Director of the Park Board, talk to a crowd about the potential for three separate re-nourishment projects all within a years’ time made me shake myself. It felt almost too good to be true after all we’ve been through to see forward motion, but it was encouraging to see a person in a leadership position put herself out there and do what she could to make it happen.
The first project is coming up within a month or so. It involves putting over 118,000 cubic yards of sand at the west end of the seawall. The second is scheduled for next fall, about a year from now. It would involve putting 16.5 million cubic yards of sand from 16th to 61st street. And the third, the one that we’re all hoping will happen, is to put sand from 61st street to 103rd street. This third project is probably the most interesting of them all as it would involve creating a beach where there is not one already and the sand comes from a source that is new for Galveston. The sand would come from the Corps of Engineers when they dredge the ship channel. We’d only have to pay the extra cost to move it by Hopper Dredge to the site.
Surfers, fisher folk, Lifeguards, and beach people develop a sense of how sand moves and is affected by ocean processes. Any of these people will confirm what the engineers say about sand replenishment projects. Nature abhors a vacuum. Since there is sand almost all the way down our 33 miles of beach with the exception of the stretch from 61st to 103rd it is essentially a dead spot that sucks sand from other areas. If it is filled, the entire beach benefits. Sand moves up and down our coast line. By the same token, by putting a bunch of sand at the end of the Seawall, the west end will see a subtle increase of sand, even if currently it’s not feasible to directly re-nourish the west end.
The other big deal about the possibility of creating a new beach is a new income stream. The 2008 Angelou Economic Report for every dollar we invest in the beach we get 4 back. Now some say it is much more. Either way, we’ll see an increase in hotel tax, property tax, and beach user fees. In ’93 when the big re-nourishment project was done on the seawall we had to increase Beach Patrol (which went from receiving 1 penny to 1 ½ pennies of hotel tax) and Beach Cleaning budgets to cover the new areas. These are areas that will have to be addressed creatively, but at least we’ll have some increased funding streams to choose from. And the returns will be exponentially increased.