2017 State of the City

Click here to view the presentation given:

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Below are the responses to questions submitted at the State of the City, as well as questions received during the "If I Were Mayor For A Day" campaign! 

For Council:

  1. Reduce single use plastic bags on the island.
    1. This was recently discussed during a council workshop. We are in the process of exploring ways to do this without adversely affecting businesses and residents but still promoting the environmental benefits.
  2. Hold quarterly community meetings, question-answer style.
    1. We love this idea. As we begin to coordinate this, look for a “Coffee with the Mayor” quarterly to be held at City Hall. We will make announcements through our regular channels!
  3. What are mayor term limits?
    1. Three two-year terms.
  4. Keep up good relations with regional, state and federal agencies. (Elise Stephens)
    1. The City has recently promoted Sally Bakko to Legislative Coordinator. She deals strictly with ensuring that the City has a strong relationship with our legislative counterparts and spends much of her time in Austin. She is also closely connected to the Chambers legislative committee and works closely with them on issues as well.
  5. List codes in paper (or notify where to look) that will be addressed so citizens will know what is code.
    1. The City’s code of ordinances is linked in numerous places on galvestontx.gov! If you look under the government tab the code is linked there.
  6. Put in a phone line for citizens to make suggestions of what they would like to see and what can be done to enhance the city.
    1. This is an excellent idea. We have a form on our website that serves that purpose currently and it can be found here: http://www.galvestontx.gov/FormCenter/City-Representatives-5/Email-City-Representatives-46
  7. Did the city decide on a logo?
    1. Council approved a new logo for economic development and marketing purposes only. The City seal remains in use for all instances that signify the city acting in an official purpose.
  8. What is an update on curbside recycling?
    1. The City currently offers curbside recycling for our senior citizens and handicap residents. We are exploring our options of what it would cost to offer curbside recycling citywide. We will be discussing cost, feasibility and options the City has during a workshop sometime in the next fiscal year.
  9. Spend less on trying to “wow” tourists and spend more on traffic issues.
    1. We try to balance the needs daily! Thank you for the input.
  10. What is the hope/vision for Broadway? 
    1. Check out the newest edition of “The Island Times” for an update on our plans for Broadway and we encourage you to get involved in the process. www.galvestontx.gov/islandtimes
  11. How can you engage volunteers to support projects that need implementation?
    1. We need help from folks like you. A great way to get involved is to consider joining a board or commission in the city. You can find the available opportunities online here: http://galvestontx.gov/128/Boards-Commissions
  12. Operate all budget as enterprise functions.
    1. Many do, but state law regulates ways that municipalities manage their budgets.
  13. Call an election to use Navigation District Funding to support the Port of Galveston.
    1. I like the way you think! Thank you for the suggestion.

Development:

  1. Work to develop the East End Flats at the Sullivans proposed for housing and urban services much like League City and Friendswood. We could easily double our population all behind the seawall. (Elise Stephens)
    1. Great points and ones we will certainly take into consideration!
  2. How will the airport property be developed? (Armin Cantini)
    1. The plan is to develop the property into high-end housing similar to Evia.
  3. Is there any chance old Galveston on 45th will ever be torn down, converted to something usable? I know it is private property, but does it not violate some city codes? (Carole Gard)
    1. We are working with developers as we speak! Stay tuned for updates!
  4. Convert both dead ends of the Sewall into parks. They are kind of hostile looking now with the red and white warning barriers, but could be a very nice amenity with a little investment (like the parks on 48th, 49th). (Bob Brown)
    1. Great idea and one that we will pass on to our Parks & Recreation Committee.

Traffic:

  1. What can we do to make it safer for tourists to cross Sewall Blvd during busy times? (Allison Brown)
    1. The City has partnered with a private consultant to assist the City in determining options on safe vehicle and pedestrian movement through and across this corridor. Options discussed have ranged from overhead pedestrian crossings to off street parking and everything in between. Currently, the Traffic Division has improved all pedestrian signalization throughout this corridor ensuring that when a pedestrian is attempting to cross at a traffic signal, the system is working properly. With high use and abuse of the equipment as well as existing within a highly corrosive environment, signal functionality is an everyday maintenance item to ensure that the end user enjoys a good and operable system. As the consultant completes the assessment, further discussions will be conducted to develop a complete plan of action moving forward. During the intervening period, our Traffic Division will continue to maintain proper signage, pavement markings, and signalization as well as the City will be continuing to encourage vehicle drivers and pedestrians alike to be patient and alert as many distractions abound.
  2. Can you install lighted street signs on Broadway, Seawall and Harborside?
    1. We have already awarded a contract to a vendor for this project and have been in production of the materials for the last few weeks. We will be receiving the signs in the coming weeks and we will be installing them as we receive them. The first phase of lighted street signs will be along the Broadway corridor and additional phases are likely along the Seawall, 61st Street, Harborside, and 25th Street corridors. Expected completion of the Broadway corridor is estimated at end of September 2017.
  3. Please explain how the traffic signals work on Broadway – or what is the plan? Especially 61st leaving the island. (Mary Case)
    1. The Traffic Division at the City of Galveston is working to improve the flow of traffic throughout the island. As part of this initiative, we are installing new controllers and communications to most of the traffic signals on the island. Major steps have already been achieved in areas such as the Broadway, Seawall, and 61st Street corridors. Our goal is to be dynamic, able to adjust the signal timing in real time to adapt to the ever changing traffic volumes on the island. We have already implemented updated signal timing to the Broadway and 61st Street corridors to allow for better progression on and off the island and have been running a synchronization and adaptive software along the Seawall corridor. These improvements have realized a significant improvement in traffic flow around the City and we are continuing to make minor adjustments as needed.
  4. Stronger stoplight enforcement.
    1. The Galveston Police Department is focusing on stronger enforcement of traffic laws throughout the City, with an emphasis on school zones and number of crosswalks.

Drainage & Flooding:

  1. Sewers for the west end – about two years ago, the city planned sewers for beachside subdivisions from Sea Isle to 16 Mi Road. When the project was bid, the city considered too high and the project was delayed. Will the city plan the project and if they do, when? Septic systems in the subdivisions have high bacteria levels that leak out during the heavy storms and are a health hazard. (Jerry Mohn)
    1. This project is cost prohibitive is not able to be funded through the standard 40 YR return period of sewer rate collections, therefore, additional funding was desired and is being currently sought after. An application was processed for funds from the recent BP grant program and we have seen some promise of approval. However, no approval has yet to be obtained. This project is not feasible to be funded without the major capital assistance through some grant program.
  2. Why has the flooding on 39th Street not been addressed? There is 50+ years of flooding that we know of. (Rick Smith)
    1. We are implementing a pilot project where we are installing proprietary back flow prevention devices in the outfall structures of the storm drain outfalls in Offets Bayou. These should arrive and be installed by end of July and we are going to test them to ensure the promised results are achieved. If the pilot program is a success, we are prepared to install these devices all throughout the island. The goal and projected outcome of the pilot program is as follows: eliminate tidal influence in our storm drain system; increase flow rate of storm water in the existing storm drain pipes; increase storm water capacity in our current storm drainage system; and reduce or eliminate localized flooding areas around the City. Provide a successful completion of the program, the drainage system the is near the 39th Street concern, will be improved and the flooding either reduced dramatically or eliminated altogether. Bear in mind, rain storms come in all different sizes and patterns, and what may not flood during one storm, may flood when a large enough rain storm arrives. What we are striving to accomplish is a reduction or elimination of flooding throughout the island as a whole from storm events of the 2-YR to 5-YR size and intensity. Storm events equal to or greater than a 10-YR event, will likely still result in localized flooding concerns, however, the proposed back flow devices will allow for much faster elimination of the standing water.
  3. Flooding on Harborside west of 51st? (John Merritt)
    1. See above response.

Streets:

  1. What are the plans for the bridge that connects to Pelican Island?
    1. This is a multi-agency project and is being discussed with potential funding from TxDOT. There are three alternatives being discussed currently and a final decision will be most assuredly cost driven. No estimate on completion dates have been given. The County is taking the lead on this.
  2. When is the city going to fix my street? Between 53rd and 57th on Menard. Is there a schedule for these less-traveled streets? (June Wright)
    1. We are rehabilitating streets all over the city. Streets that fall into the collector and arterial category, as per the functional classification map, will be rehabilitated through complete street reconstruction. Minor or local streets, as per the functional classification map, will be rehabilitated by mill and overlay method. Utilizing our street assessment data obtained in FY2017, we will prioritize the streets in a worst first priority and working up from there. Our goal is that by the end of the rehabilitation program, streets falling below a 70 on the pavement condition index, or PCI for short, will have been rehabilitated and the subsequent PCI will be improved to about a 95 on the index. The PCI index ranges from 0 to 100 with 100 being perfect pavement. Currently, the streets mentioned above are between a 74 PCI and a 94 PCI.
  3. Is there a plan to open 61st Street to Harborside?
    1. We continue to look at options, but no foreseeable plan has been adopted for the near future. It is on the long-range thoroughfare plan for recommendation to the Transportation Improvement Plan call for projects which is overseen and funded through the Houston Galveston Area Council.
  4. Will the part of 65th Street (behind Bayou Homes Drive) that was not repaved get a black top repair?
    1. The street nearest Heards Lane is uneven and has sections sinking from the machinery that was parked in the empty lot during construction. The street nearest Heards Lane is uneven and has sections sinking from the machinery that was parked in the empty lot during construction. Once the project has been completed and accepted, we will review the condition of the adjacent pavement and repair accordingly.

Transit:

  1. Is it possible to pay a flat fee for all-day bus/trolley service (on-and-off service)?
    1. We do offer a monthly pass for a flat rate that allows unlimited use of the bus service. Trolley service is free through Labor Day. We will be working with the hoteliers to work out fare arrangements that make the most sense for our visitors and a daily pass has been suggested.
  2. Why take Saturday buses away from the West End from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.?
    1. Island Transit has had to make hard decisions lately. When looking at ridership combined with the cost of service, the lifeline route changes are what made the most fiscal sense for an operation that was losing almost $500,000 a year.

Police Questions:

  1. Mayor needs to support the police, answer constituents’ emails, and act as a public servant at all times.
    1. Having been in public service for over 25 years, I want our residents to be assured that I do live by this creed daily. I do support our police, I answer as many emails as time allows, and I spend my days representing Galveston in the best possible light that I can.
  2. Use security forces on foot or bikes to watch neighborhoods.
    1. We have the capability and we do have police officers that often ride bikes during their shifts as well as during events when man power allows and it is the best fit for the situation.
  3. Get police out of cars.
    1. We play the balancing act daily of community policing with officers out of their vehicles and on the streets as opposed to in their cars, however, the downside of this type of policing is longer response times to calls. We do, however, believe in this practice and try to do it as much as time and man power allow.
  4. How many additional police would Galveston need to move to community policing?
    1. Generally, community policing is not tied to a number, but rather a philosophy and one that the Galveston Police Department embraces. In FY 2018 we will be adding 16 additional police officers.
  5. What is the challenge in supporting competitive pay for our police?
    1. This is a challenge that every department faces as communities all draw from the same source of funds. Priorities are always placed on public safety, as they are here. The challenge is offering competitive pay, staffing a force that can handle the call base, without compromising infrastructure and needed quality of life improvements.

Parking Questions:

  1. Is it possible to have a citywide parking permit good on Sewall, downtown, resident parking for residents on the island?
    1. We do not have enough parking inventory downtown to allow for an annual pass. The businesses in that district depend on spaces turning over to keep customers moving through their establishments. Residential parking is intended for residents in that specific neighborhood, the permits are not meant to be used city-wide. The Seawall parking pass was enacted by ballot language and the money from that pass is by state law to go to the beach user fee fund. Due to a number of factors as you as see here, it would be impossible for us to combine the parking passes into one.
  2. Can we look forward to a downtown without paid parking? Look into how Nacodoches runs their city with free parking.(Carole Gard)
    1. The business owners in the downtown area rely upon the paid parking to create space turnover to bring in new customers. There have been periods of free parking in the downtown area, and business owners lobbied council to reintroduce paid parking for that reason. Over 1,000 people live and work in the downtown area, and there are only 630 paid parking spaces available.
  3. If there is no cemented sidewalk, is it still illegal to park across or on the sidewalk? What if the street is flooded?
    1. Vehicles parked on any portion of the right-of-way prevent pedestrians from using the walkway and force them into the street. Not all rights-of-way have a concrete or “improved surfaces”; however, it is still a violation to obstruct or encroach upon any portion of the City’s right-of-way designated for pedestrian passage. This violation is supported by a state law as well as a city ordinance. Please ensure that vehicles are parked legally in the street next to the curb, or fully onto private property.

For the Park Board:

  1. Bring some Christian bands to the island for the weekend. (Taylor Aiken)
    1. Fantastic idea Taylor and one we will pass on to our Convention and Visitors Bureau to pass on to their partners as a great suggestion.
  2. Attract small (less than 1,000) conventions.
    1. The Park Boards Convention and Visitors Bureau’s has a team that works on this and we will certainly pass this suggestion on to them.
  3. Bring the National Hurricane Conference in May. (Taylor Aiken)
    1. We love the National Hurricane Conference and would be honored to host it. We will certainly make sure that our team at the Park Board who handles courting such conferences is aware of it and pursues that.
  1. Do you have plans for the East End Lagoon? Is there any development there?
    1. All master plans for park board managed assets are on-line. You can find the EEL master plan at http://www.galvestonparkboard.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/316