Big Vote in Galveston

Galveston residents head to the polls Saturday to decide whether to allow the city to charge people to park along the Seawall. Money collected would go to enhancements on the beach. Pat Hernandez has more.

The last time the issue was put before island voters, it was defeated in 2004. Should it pass this time around, the city would be able to charge up to 8-dollars a day to park along the Seawall.

People could also pay 25-dollars for a pass good for a year.

Red and green signs have littered the island for a couple of months. Red for yes, and green for no.

Beau Yarbrough is with the political action committee working to bring parking fees to the Seawall. He says 75-percent of the money collected would go to making the Seawall more attractive.

“They’re doing basic services such as trash pickup, and that’s about it. I mean, there are no showers, there are no restrooms, there’s few amenities. I have a lot of friends who live in Houston and that’s their number one complaint, is you have no amenities.”

The proposed parking fee will provide roughly a half million dollars a year for those amenities including better sidewalks and improved lighting. Yarbrough says it could increase tourism to the island.

“There’s no reason, when you have one of the largest cities in the country thirty minutes away, that you shouldn’t have first class amenities. These people should be coming to Galveston, because it’s so much closer than going to Padre or Florida, or other parts of the country.”

Supporters are encouraged because the mayor, chamber of commerce and most merchant groups now support a parking fee to fund Seawall improvements. But Yarbrough admits that the opposition is just as strong.

“I’m not making any predictions on the election. I know that there’s enough voters out there to win it, but I also know there’s enough votes out there to kill it. So, it’s just gonna be a matter of which group mobilizes better.”

Even if the referendum passes, parking along the Seawall would still be free before 10am and after 6pm. Residents can cast ballots at 12-polling locations including Galveston City Hall.  For more information, visit the City of Galveston Website.