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Planning Firm Hired for Galveston Island State Park Redevelopment
Public Hearing Set for Sept. 21
AUSTIN – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has hired MESA Design Group of Dallas to lead a master planning and design team that will guide redevelopment of hurricane-ravaged Galveston Island State Park. TPWD also is asking stakeholders to provide their opinions and ideas regarding future park development via a Web survey.
MESA and its team of consultants are charged with creating a design that will transform the island park severely damaged in 2008 by Hurricane Ike into a premiere destination within the Texas state park system, in part by utilizing such sustainable elements as alternative energy sources and rainwater harvesting. MESA and its partners have a national portfolio of award-winning work in the master planning and design of environmentally based recreational and park venues, including the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Grand Canyon Transit Center.
The online survey is one of many opportunities for citizens to share opinions and ideas about how they would like to see the park developed and what kind of recreational opportunities they would like to have. This is the first time TPWD has surveyed the public to gather input about what users would like to see included in state park design and development.
“Each year, visitors from Texas and the United States visit Galveston Island State park. Additionally, we have a group of folks that were displaced by Hurricane Ike who no longer live in the area,” says Justin Rhodes, TPWD’s regional director of state parks in southeast Texas. “We wanted a mechanism to secure feedback from a wide range of geographically diverse stakeholders. The online survey seemed like the best and most cost-effective way to do this.”
The survey can be accessed by visiting: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/galvestonisland Information collected will help the team of consultants working on the plan to gauge the level of importance of different aspects of the park or potential improvements. In addition, TPWD and park planners will be seeking input through a series of public hearings to be held in coming months. The first meeting will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 21 in the Lecture Theater, Ocean and Coastal Studies Building #3029 on the Texas A&M Galveston campus. For more information, contact Trey Goodman at (409) 737-1222.
Barring any environmental or cultural resource issues, the Galveston Island State Park master plan is expected to be completed by next spring. The park development timetable calls for the submission of architectural drawings and the design plan by January of 2012. Depending on the availability of funds, the earliest construction would begin is spring of 2012, according to Tony Bettis, regional project manager for TPWD’s Infrastructure Division.
Funding for the hiring of consultants to develop a master plan to design and rebuild the state park was provided by the Texas Legislature from a portion of the state’s Hurricane Ike recovery funds.
Galveston Island State Park is open seven days a week and offers full services on the bay side and limited camping and day use facilities on the beach side until a master plan is developed, environmental assessment completed and permanent facilities rebuilt. To facilitate the reopening of the beach side, electrical power and water have been restored, and a structure has been moved in to serve as temporary headquarters. The original headquarters building and all other beachside facilities were destroyed by Hurricane Ike. Dozens of volunteers from The Friends of Galveston Island State Park and other interested individuals pitched in after the storm to clean up the park to help it reopen way ahead of schedule.
Galveston Island State Park occupies a sliver of land at the midway point of the barrier island about six miles southwest of the western tip of the popular sea wall. The bay side provides public access to about 600 acres of grasslands with coastal scrub and scattered oak mottes, as well as hundreds of additional acres of saltwater sloughs, wildlife-rich wetlands and tidal bayous.
Galveston Island State Park hours are from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. The park office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. The park entry fee for persons 13 and older is $5.
Visitors can reach Galveston Island State Park from FM 3005 (Seawall Boulevard). For more information, call the park at (409) 737-1222.
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