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By Rodger Rees, Galveston Wharves Port Director and CEO
I regularly make presentations to Galveston civic and neighborhood groups about the progress the port is making on implementing its 20-Year Strategic Master Plan. Last Thursday, Oct. 26, we reached a much bigger audience by hosting a public meeting. All in all, it was a huge success.
More than 120 people attended the meeting to learn about port parking and transportation, traffic infrastructure projects, port operations, long-range planning, Green Marine initiatives, port police and security, and our third cruise terminal.
Representatives from the port, Royal Caribbean International and Ceres Terminals Holdings LLC staffed six information stations. The open house format gave us the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with Galvestonians, current and potential business partners and elected officials.
Attendees included Galveston residents, U.S. Congressman Randy Weber and staff, Texas Senator Larry Taylor, Galveston City Council members, Galveston Wharves Board trustees, news media and travel bloggers.
People came with specific questions to be addressed and a general curiosity about what’s happening at the port. Travel bloggers wanted to learn more about our cruise growth, including new ships – Royal’s Allure of the Seas, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Prima and Carnival Cruise Line’s Jubilee. Some businesspeople came to learn how to work with the port on its many initiatives, from construction projects to a potential offshore wind project.
We heard many positive comments about the benefits of our internal roadway to help alleviate port-related cruise and cargo traffic on Harborside Drive. There was keen interest in our vision for development of port property on Pelican Island and how we will manage traffic flow around the new cruise terminal.
Community members were also very supportive of our Green Marine initiatives, including electric vehicle charging stations, shore power and LNG fueling for ships.
We invited attendees to fill out comment cards to collect suggestions, requests for follow-up information and concerns.
The overall tone of the event was excitement about the port’s progress and support for our plans. As a self-sustaining city entity, our mission is to generate and reinvest port revenues to benefit the Galveston community with economic growth, jobs and sales tax revenues. Our strategic master plan is guiding how we do that.
It was really gratifying to see so much community support for the port and our direction. As a citizen-owned entity and major economic engine for our region, that support and input is a key to our success.