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GRCC
Coastal Surge Protection
Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration Feasibility Study Public Hearing Held in Galveston
by Ruth Ann Ruiz
Thursday, December 13, 2018

The United States Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday evening held a public hearing for the Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration Feasibility Study at the Galveston Island Convention Center.

This was the second in a series of four public hearings which are part of the process in the research and design of a coastal barrier plan.

Colonel Lars Zetterstrom, District Engineer, Commanding Officer, Galveston District opened the meeting by introducing Kelly A. Burks-Copes, also with the Army Corps of Engineers and Tony Williams from the Texas General Land Office. Both Burks-Copes and Williams spoke to the crowd. Burks-Copes provided an overview of the research history and future goals. A court reporter documented the official meeting process. Listen (96:34)

The public’s opportunity to speak followed the presentation. Col Zetterstrom instructed the attendees to follow public meeting decorum and each speaker was limited to one minute. Elected officials were invited to be the first speakers. They spoke in this order:

Galveston Mayor Jim Yarbrough, Port of Galveston Director/CEO Rodger Rees, Galveston Wharves Board Trustee Todd Sullivan, Texas State Representative Elect Mayes Middleton, and other elected officials declined the option of making a public comment.

When Middleton spoke he turned to the crowd and asked for a show of hands for who was against the plan as it is in its present state.

Several citizens spoke during the hearing. Most of the speakers agreed a coastal barrier system is necessary and thanked the Corps for all their work. Several spoke against the portion of the design that would include a ring levee with a wall-type structure running from the west end of the seawall through the city of Galveston.

Speakers' concerns ranged from lack of research on the environmental impact of the design to the destruction of property value, the possibility of property owners losing their homes and businesses to eminent domain, the visual qualities of levees running through the city of Galveston and the impact on the fishing industry. Residents on the far west end of the island were vocal regarding how the design might cause disruption to their lives. Public concerns also included the lack of future public input into the design.

A total of 340 people signed in as attendees and 50 people filled out comment cards requesting to speak publicly. Comment forms were available for those who did not want to speak but wanted their opinions to be on record. The venue's 500 chairs were mostly filled, with some other attendees choosing to stand.

Prior to the hearing, citizens were invited to a question and answer session with the team of engineers who have worked on the plan. Visual displays of the plan were exhibited and individuals quizzed the engineers while reviewing the information on display.

Burks-Copes, in an interview with Guidry News Service and in her public speech, stressed that the current design plans are only conceptual and are subject to change. The Army Corps of Engineers will be reviewing all other research and taking into account public comments as they move forward with the design. Public comments must be submitted to the Army Corps of Engineers by January 9, 2019 to be included in the decision-making process.

The two remaining public meetings are:

December 15, 2018
Bolivar Peninsula
Crenshaw Elementary School
Crystal Beach, TX 77551
Time: 1:00 - 4:30pm / Public Open House with access to project team members of Q&A

December 18, 2018
Seabrook, TX
Bay Area Community Center
5002 E. NASA Parkway
Seabrook, TX 77586
Time:
5:30 – 9:00pm / Public Open House with access to project team members of Q&A

More information regarding the coastal barrier design plan can be found at http://coastalstudy.texas.gov

For direct questions the public is encouraged to reach out to Kelly Burks at Kelly.A.Burks-Copes@usacearmy.mil or Tony Williams at TonyWilliams@glo.texas.gov.




Ike Dike
Remembering Jim Guidry BAHEP


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