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Island Recovery: November 2008 Archives

Islander By Choice will be attending this meeting, hosted by Gerald Sullivan at the SugarBean coffee shop in Evia (Stewart Rd to 99th Street towards golf course, left on Evia Main) and we encourage all who share a "vested interest" in the future of our Island to attend.  See the orginal post here.

The following message is from the host, confirming the date and time...

Message about The Dawning of a New Day on Galveston Island

Good morning and Happy Thanksgiving!

The response to the party next week has been overwhelming. I have been inspired to hear the many ideas you have - this is your forum and your future. Mayor Thomas will be our guest to hear about your ideas as well.

In the spirit of the gathering, I want to reassure you that we will not be here all night. Your time is valuable so the following are the topics for discussion: Education, Tourism, Business/Industry, UTMB, Governmental Affairs, Housing and Quality of Life. Please begin to compile your thoughts and ideas - remember, this event is being held for you and your participation is critical.

I wish you and your family Happy Thanksgiving and look forward to seeing you all on December 2nd!
Gerald Sullivan
 
Get your work gloves on this weekend and make sure your house/business is cleaned out.  As of November 30th, the City will no longer be picking up storm debris.  So, if you've waited to the last minute to get your trash heap together, now's the time.  Thanksgiving is next week, and there's no sense in digging through trash when there's thanks to be given.

All piles of trash need to be placed at the curb in order for crews to easily attain acces to it.  They will not come onto your property to obtain trash.

Keep in mind, NEW construction debris is NOT allowed to be put out for haul off.  The home/business owner or the contractor performing the work is responsible for hauling it off.
 
Join us to kick off the Holiday Season at the Official City of Galveston Holiday Tree Lighting
 
Friday, November 28, 2008
6:00 - 8:00 pm
Hotel Galvez Front Lawn
2024 Seawall Blvd.
 
Hosted by KPRC's Frank Billingsley
* Performances by Temple High School Choir
* Texas Bagpipe Group
* Sneak Peek Performance of Moody Gardens' Christmas Musical
* Holiday Greetings from Santa and Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas
* Photos with Santa by the Sea and Gifts from Santa

Don't Miss Sunday Brunch with Santa at the Hotel Galvez on December 7, 14 and 21.
 
Sponsored by Mitchell Historic Properties, Hotel Galvez, Historic Downtown Galveston Partnership and the City of Galveston.
 
For more information, call (409) 765-7721.
 

I received a call from Dana in the planning department this afternoon.  It was not from Ms. Schwarz, who is the Historic Preservation Officer in the planning dept, though as I had hoped.  What Dana tells me is this:

We (and most of the East End) are 'blue' on the damage assessment map.  http://www.cityofgalveston.org/_private/newstool/newsdoc/Map_11-13-08_25th_East.pdf

From what I understand, that means we were originally categorized as 'yellow' but since we fall under an historic exemption, and are therefore "excused" from having to elevate/comply, we are now 'blue' (which is the new 'green').  I explained to her what I had expressed to Ms. Schwarz in my emails:  we want to be given the chance to be considered "substantially damaged" (those areas that are assessed "substantially damaged" are shown in red on the map) so that we may pursue the Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) rider in our flood insurance.  The ICC can cover up to $30,000 to pay for mitigation of future flood damage, in our case - elevating the home.

As it stands now, there is no appeals process for 'blue' properties.  You can appeal if you are any other color, it seems, besides 'blue'. 


Dana has assured me that she will have Ms. Schwarz get to the bottom of this 'grey' area when she meets with the FEMA rep tomorrow afternoon (2pm).  I will be following up with her and posting whatever I find out.

I don't know about you, but I'm about to go color blind!

www.PiecesOfShip.com
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Nautical Antiques & Decor, although still heavily damaged, will be open on Black Friday, (November 28th) from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.  We have had an abundance of customers who have asked to come and see our inventory after the storm and hopefully this will be one way to accomodate that.  We will have beer on (and in) hand and ready to do business (although limited to cash and checks with I.D.).  The short hours are due to compliance from the sun as we are without electricity.

In longterm news, we plan to have a grand reopening tenatively on March 1st.  We are going to save the champagne until then.  Unfortunately, there is a lot of work yet to be done between now and then.  Stay tuned by joining our mailing list at www.piecesofship.com/mailinglist.htm

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If you own or know of a business that has reopened, contact info.hdgp@sbcglobal.net ( www.downtowngalveston.org ) and let them know.

Do you have any suggestions for business owners to drum up business or to just get the word out? If so, please let us know by commenting to this blog.

I thought I'd pass this along to everyone:

Alicia Cahill
Public Information Officer
409.797.3546
City of Galveston
PO Box 779
Galveston, TX 77553
www.cityofgalveston.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Great Galveston Garbage Gobble Volunteer Event
Galveston, Texas
November 18, 2008
Calling all volunteers!  Help Galveston get back on its feet by sweeping the streets of storm-damaged materials.  Register for the Great Galveston Garbage Gobble!  Phil D. Can can't clean the whole Island by himself and needs the help of the entire Gulf Coast on Saturday, November 29, 2008, from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
The City of Galveston has teamed up with Clean Galveston, AmeriCorps, Impact, and Help4Galveston to coordinate this volunteer event.  Individuals, families, and groups can call the City of Galveston's Volunteer Reception Center at (409) 797-3710 for additional information or to register in advance.  Galveston needs everyone's help!
 

WHAT:    Great Galveston Garbage Gobble
WHEN:    Saturday, November 29th (rain or shine!)
               Registration: 8:00 a.m.
               Volunteer Appreciation Lunch: 1:00 p.m.
WHERE:  Alamo Elementary School
               345 Cornell (intersection of 53rd Street and Avenue N ½)      

All volunteers will need to sign a waiver.  Any participant under the age of 18 will need to present a waiver signed by their parent or guardian.  Participants should dress according to the weather.  They are advised to wear old sneakers or other thick-soled shoes (no open toed shoes or sandals allowed).  Limited supplies will be on hand.  Volunteers are asked to bring the following items with them to the event: gloves; dust masks; rakes; brooms; and shovels. City personnel, AmeriCorps volunteers, and community members man the City of Galveston's Volunteer Reception Center (VRC).  The center connects volunteers with service opportunities in the Galveston community.
 
I've submitted another request for some more specific information from the Galveston Planning Department's Historic Preservation Officer regarding pursuit of the Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) insurance coverage for those of us with historic homes.  I will post any response I get as soon as it comes in...

Good news:  the owner of Cherry House Moving has agreed to "work with us" on the cost of elevating our historic homes.  Hopefully, if there is a group of us that can get through the permitting process and then get approval from the Landmark Commission by submitting appropriate and acceptable plans, we can help make the elevation cost a bit more easy on the pocketbook...

Stay tuned for updates...

(the following info was taken from Leigh Jones' November 16th coverage of the ever-developing City's assessment map)

APPEALS PROCESS

Ways to appeal substantially damaged property

1. All property owners appealing a substantial damage ruling must obtain a certified pre-storm appraisal, not more than a year old, which indicates the house value is higher than the Galveston Central Appraisal District value.

2. In conjunction with a certified pre-storm appraisal, submit a complete project bid from a registered contractor to repair the structure and the insurance adjustment determination, if the structure was insured. Property owners who plan to do the work themselves can submit a cost estimate for the materials needed to do the work, but city officials must add a cost estimate for labor to the total to make it consistent with other estimates.

3. Submit an elevation certificate, completed by a licensed Texas surveyor, verifying the structure is located at or above the base flood elevation and complies with current National Flood Insurance Program rate maps. The maps can be viewed online at www.fema.gov.

4. Elevate the structure to the minimum elevation requirement for your area.

5. Move the structure to a property that conforms to the flood plain regulations.

6. Demolish the structure and rebuild according to the current regulations.

Ways to have property ruled substantially damaged

1. Submit a complete project bid from a registered contractor to repair the structure.

2. Submit the insurance adjustment determination, if the structure was insured.

3. Request the damage report from the city and make sure basic information, like square footage, is accurate.
 
Host:      Gerald Sullivan
Location: Sugar Bean Coffee and Cream - Private Meeting Room (11 Evia Main, Galveston, TX)
When:     Tuesday, December 2, 6:00PM
Phone:     409.744.5555

Galveston Island is in a recovery and rebuilding mode and we would like for you to participate in that effort!

Please join us for an evening with Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas to discuss your ideas for the future of Galveston Island.  What are our greatest challenges and opportunities, what should be the short-term and long-term goals for the island, how will your family thrive as we rebuild our home?  These and other topics will be discussed and please come prepared to offer your ideas and input as we seize this opportunity to rebuild Galveston Island!  

If you would like to submit topics for discussion, e-mail them to ksullivan@sullivaninterests.com.  Also, feel free to forward this invitation to other friends who have a vested interest in Galveston Island!

Click here for more information.
 
 
I heard my new theme song this week on my trip to Texas City to visit my Galveston hair stylist.  I hadn't heard this song in a long time, but I found myself belting it out as I drove 45.  Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It."  Ok, you can stop laughing at me now.

Perhaps I'm moving into the "Anger" part of the Stages of Grief (see last Saturday's post for that explanation), but I'm tired of the Island being thrown under the proverbial bus.  I seriously thought Paul Burka's pathetic attempt at gothic mourning would send me out my office window (see this month's Texas Monthly for that piece of optimism).  And his is just one in quite a few recent attempts at justifying letting the Island lay down to die.  So what to do with all of this pent-up rage?  What do all of us do?  Whether it is from the insurance game, the Great Permit Wait of '08, the utter lack of people skills by our leaders?  The list goes on and on.

We desperately need a figurehead right now - a spokesperson really.  (I'll steer clear of overall management and leadership capacity at this point).  We need communication, some serious PR that communicates a unified vision, backed up by a concrete, enforceable plan.  Hell, we needed that before the Storm, but now it is more serious than ever.  We Islanders need that too.  We need a leader who presents a vision that will bring together an Island that is truly a place to live, work, raise a family while promoting the tourism industry that represents the variety of attractions this Island has to offer like ecotourism, historic tourism, fishing, the beaches, etc.  Admittedly this is no small feat as one must not only deal with the political minefield that is Galveston interest groups but must present a cohesive plan that values and preserves our state's precious history, environmental landscape, as well as creates a diversified workforce with multiple economic engines.  Oh, and we need some regulations and actual capacity to ensure quality planning and code enforcement (hello Broadway).

A few folks have come out of the gate here lately.  I don't know Gerald Sullivan and am only familiar with what the Daily News has written.  But, I do know this.  If he is going to lead this recovery committee, he's going to have to step up and speak to the Island as well as bring together the best and the brightest the Island has to offer, and again, represents the Island.  For example, if this Island truly cares about middle class flight (anyone out there know who qualifies as middle class on this Island?), you better put some of us on that committee and include an achievable plan as part of recovery.  And I'm just saying here - whether it is fair or not, he's going to have to build trust with some of my fellow Islanders.  The brouhaha (love that word) that is his family's interest on the Island and the East End Flat's drama befitting only an episode of "All My Children" is his burden to bear.  It may not be right.  It may not be fair.  It is what it is.  And nobody knows this better than Islanders.

One last thing.  I'd like to give a shout-out to my boy, U.S. Representative Chet Edwards (D) from Waco for truly leading an effort to support the Island post-Ike.  Check out the Daily News today for a story on this.  That's the kind of leadership we need.  Thanks for taking the bull by the horns Chet.
 

Solutions. Not soapboxes.

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I just read an article from Texas Monthly about Galveston and Ike's aftermath.  The last line says that in the end, the sea will always win in Galveston.  That pisses me off.  The author of the piece is BOI and grew up here.  However, of course, he now lives elsewhere in Texas.  At the same time he relies on his sense of heartfelt abominations hiding behind his hysterical views of a place he used to call home.  In his case, maybe the ocean did win.  Maybe it rose up from its depth dwelling soul and captured his courage.  But I tell you this, Galveston needs not his kind.

Don't get me wrong.  His article triumphed in telling the story of the storm and the pitfalls of destruction along with the Island's leaders' abilities to overcome.  And he even tells of his own family's tie with the epitome of Galveston's existence - the 1900 Storm.  But one can tell he's lost his G-Town swagger.

Instead he attempts every reason why people should not inhabit the Island.  The same reasons he cites for not resurrecting Galveston are the very things that make the folks who chose and still choose to do so brave souls.  In all of his words about the Island's history and how it shapes the Island's psyche, he fails to realize that those of us committed to the Island do so to preserve and protect this very history.  Without the courage, grit, and passion of 1900 Storm survivors, the author would not only have lacked his childhood but this very romanticized drama of a magazine article.

We need solutions, not soapboxes.  However brave we may be, the author snatches up the heroism by his final line.  Almost an ultimatum against residents.  The sea does not win.  It has not won.  The sea may have taken things from our Island over the years, but it has not and will never take our one and only weapon against it.  Choice.

I would love to post a link to the article, but Texas Monthly's website won't let you read the whole thing.  So, if you're somewhere selling mags, pick one up and tell me how you feel about his words.
 
(Thanks to Lesley Sommer and the HDGP Board for continuing to be the advocate for businesses and residents of downtown Galveston! Please visit www.downtownGalveston.org for more information!)

City to Clean Downtown Streets -  The mud should be gone by Dec. 1

HDGP met Tuesday with the City Manager to discuss the cleaning of downtown.  While the major debris piles are being removed, the mud and small debris continue to carpet the streets.  Following discussion with the department heads present it was agreed that the "fine cleaning" needed to happen prior to Dickens on The Strand and the Lone Star Rally, and a completion date of December 1st was set.
 
They City has asked that all businesses and building owners honor the November 15 deadline for debris cleanout.  After that point the City requests that debris no longer be placed in the Right of Way.
 
Do you have any suggestions/ideas/concerns you'd like HDGP to address?  How would you like to see Galveston's downtown progress over the next days, weeks, months, etc?
  

We had the chance to visit Gary and Mike at Big House Antiques, 2212 Mechanic, yesterday and are pleased to report they have made phenomenal headway on restoring their showroom.  Although they are not "officially open", the doors are open when they're there working and they'll surely welcome any walk-in customers.

Our good friends Scott and Holly at Antique Warehouse, 423 Rosenberg (aka 25th Street) have also been back in business since cleaning out the sludge and damage from the roughly 8' of water they had inside.  Need any antique long leaf pine flooring?  Bead board? Architectural salvage?  This is the place, and these guys invented service with a smile.  "Best Galveston Antique Store" is right, as they were awarded this year by the Galveston Daily News.

Nautical Antiques is, of course, available by appointment (409) 761-0392, but the gaping hole in the roof keeps us from being able to open up the doors for regular hours just yet.  You can find us at the Winnie Trade Days the weekend of November 7-9th with Antique Warehouse if you care to venture out!

 

It's not really "love", but the Galveston Planning Department, that we want to help lift us (and by "us" I mean our house) up, but it is where we belong, common sense - and Ike's foul waters that seeped into what little insulation we HAD, our electrical box, and 2 complete sets of home appliances - would suggest.  

Michael and I are not alone in our quest.  After canvassing the neighborhood last week, we were thrilled to have been met with such support and positive feedback from homeowners we visited and talked with along the way and from those that called us after reading the notes we left about elevating our historic homes.

Our city council representative has been extremely communicative with us and I am confident that our Planning Department and Historic Preservation Officer will agree that, if we want any history left to preserve, elevating these homes and ensuring they'll be here for 125 more years is imperative.

We'll be posting information as we gather and confirm it, but please feel free to give us a buzz if you'd like to join the cause!

 

 
 

Looking for great gift ideas, authentic island made apparel or need to replace your favorite t-shirt post-Ike? Look no further than Islander By Choice apparel! Click here for our current inventory!

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