More Money, More Problems?

By Lyndsey Garza

(Part 2 of 2 – Continued from May issue)

If you read my article published in May’s issue then you, as a faithful Islander reader, received the facts regarding the legislative processes that will need to occur in order to have the fate of gambling be decided upon by the residents of Texas in a popular vote. You also received the breakdown of how the legalized gaming supporters have proposed the state would distribute the millions’ of dollars worth of tax revenue received from casinos and slot machines. If you missed last month’s issue, or are picking up The Islander Magazine for the first time, you can find it on the publication’s website, www.theislandermagazine.com. This month, I am going to address the debate between pro-gaming and anti-gaming parties and my thoughts on the gaming debate and how it could affect Galveston Island’s economy.
Supporters of legalizing gaming within Texas have been at this for over 20 years. They recently caught the spotlight due to the Texas budget shortfall, which has been quoted anywhere from $15 to $27 billion dollars, depending upon who you talk to. As mentioned in my previous article, Texans generally do not want any kind of tax imposed upon them, whether it’s necessary to begin correcting this historical budget deficit or not. Our state is simply looking for other alternatives, and they just are not there.

The option that we are facing currently is to stop funding basic federal programs, such as education. (Because none of us are concerned about the options of education and grant/federal aid money that are and will be available for our children and grandchildren, right? That makes sense to go ahead and cut funds here in this account.) This is simply an option that I am not happy to watch unfold on the evening news. Katy ISD let go of teachers, mind you interrupted their classes, to let them know that they were expendable, then promptly replaced by a more cost effective replacement, the substitute. To that I say, “What?!”

Obviously, money is the driving benefit gaming supporters are focused on. The laws proposed often require steep taxes from the operators that purchase the licenses needed to run their establishment. The revenue that would be obtained from the patrons would provide even more cash that would benefit the state, as well as the local city and county the establishment was located in. Employment would increase in a 30-mile radius of any casino or slot location. Have you seen the amount of people needed to fully staff these resort casinos offering hotel rooms, food and beverage choices, entertainment through shows and concerts, janitorial and custodial needs, marketing and sales? I could go on and on.

These casinos are done in a grand fashion, also bringing construction back to the island, which in itself carries a lot of jobs and a pool of employees deeply hurt by the economy, who are ready to work! In response to the increased employment that would be brought to the area, I get a lot of replies about the low-middle income jobs that casinos tend to offer. People say, “These types of jobs will only attract low-average income families to populate the island, not a strong tax base.” The Island needs any major contributor to its employment options — period. After Ike, the island could only stand by and watch in horror as its number one employer, the University of Texas Medical Branch lay off over 3,000 people. This was a devastating economic blow to Galveston, the businesses that support the school, and the residents that owned those businesses. This was an economic hit felt by more than just those 3,000 UTMB employees. Also, I am shocked to hear that Galveston would suffer from a low-average income family living here. I think that most of the residents of the city that live here full time behind the Seawall are, quite frankly, those families. Why not get more job options that create proud residents who would be proactive in the future and stability of our truly vulnerable island? Much of the gaming tax revenue would also be put towards property tax relief for these proud, employed, home owning residents of Galveston. Why not just make life better?
Tourism, the number one industry on the island, would boom! Gaming would not take over what this island already has gained in the past century – the concept that Galveston Island is not just a tar covered beach, but a destination and second home haven for Houstonians. As an island, we already have so much to offer families, beach lovers, history buffs, nature lovers, art enthusiasts, and shopping addicts. There really is something for everyone here.

This increase in the tourism industry would positively impact many of our residents who own local businesses, as well as the true entrepreneurs amongst us. It would also attract the larger hotel and restaurant chains, looking to make money. These all need more employees! Other anti-gaming supporters speak about the moral dilemmas that would be then faced by the general population when gambling is legalized in an area. These moral dilemmas would include crime, drugs, and many other problems that Galveston has never experienced. Really? Crime is here; drugs have been and will continue to circulate throughout any community (yes, even Kingwood and Plano).

The increased amount of visitors will also be cause for a larger police and fire department to deal with these issues. I think we all can agree that these particular areas of the city have been victims of the pinch lately, and personally, I would prefer it if the city of Galveston could overstaff these positions, please?

Again, you will not find many other Islander lovers and supporters (BOI at heart) who want to see this Galveston grow and prosper more than I do. I am simply stating my opinions about a business decision that would impact our community, and what I see as a golden ticket. This island, despite change, will always have its problems, whether we vote them in or allow our elected officials to do their jobs making decisions. I am simply speaking the truth regarding the present state of the island’s economy, as well as the itching call for change that has caught my attention recently.
Well, in my opinion, at least.

Lyndsey Garza is a Galveston resident of 13 years, is the Director of Sales – Texas with Terramesa Resorts, a licensed Texas real estate broker and a provisional member of the Junior League of Galveston County. Please don’t hesitate to e-mail her with comments, questions, anything real estate related at lyndsey.garza@terramesaresorts.com. Additional information about the resort style communities she promotes and loves can be found on the following websites: Pointe West, Galveston Island – www.pointewestgalveston.com and The Hollows on Lake Travis – www.hollowslaketravis.com.

Pelican Rest Luxury Marina Slated for Summer 2011 Opening

A destination point for summer season 2011; Galveston’s new Pelican Rest Marina Village will celebrate completion of its much anticipated luxury marina. The marina, located on the north side of Offats Bayou, a long-standing natural yachting hub for Galveston, will be the newest and one of the most upscale in Texas.
Pelican Rest Marina, billed by the owner as the “Gateway to Galveston,” will be a part of a multi-use, high-end marina complex in the center of a growing and vibrant area in Galveston. The new marina will serve as a social and commercial hub and destination for boaters along the entire Gulf Coast.

The marina site, scoured by Hurricane Ike and left riddled with debris has been transformed into an inviting lush manicured and landscaped tropical showpiece with a wide variety of palms, tropical plants and flowers, a stunning new fountain and private pool and well laid hard-scape paths.
After only a few minutes on the site, visitors will be delighted with frequently visiting brown pelicans looking for fish, resting on pilings, or going for a leisurely flight around the bayou and understand how the owner’s coined the name.
Currently under construction, Pelican Rest Marina is a state-of-the-art concrete floating SHOREMASTER system that is designed to house 60’ and larger class fishing yachts. “From the beginning, the owner was clear…Build the best marina possible,” emphasizes Bryce Fisher, SHOREMASTER Regional Sales Manager.
SHOREMASTER, working with local marine engineer Marcus Michna, Principal and President of Shelmark Engineering, LLC, designed the marina to be functional for boats over 100’ with wide walkways and fingers, expantial room to maneuver within the marina footprint and overflow room for larger vessels on the perimeter.

Pelican Rest members and visitors have access to deep water slips and accommodations for mega yachts, transient dockage for overnight stays, an industry leading fire protection system, potable water and 30, 50, 100 and 200 amp electrical service. When completed, Pelican Rest Marina will be the most protected deep water marina in Texas.
As a “white-glove” marina, patrons will have access to all Marina Village facilities and a wide range of on-site services. The historical island landmark, Smitty’s is scheduled for upgrading and remodeling, and will be the on-site Marina Bait & Tackle facility that will provide fresh seafood, bait, ice and tackle and marina supplies. Land- and water-based shuttles will be available to ferry guests to Galveston hot spots, hotels and golf courses and Scholes International Airport at for private aircraft.
Pelican Rest clients can also take full advantage of VIP Vessel Concierge Services which include fuel and standard maintenance assistance, laundry, transportation, deliveries of provisions and Wi-Fi. Pelican Rest has a secure entrance, on-site security and ample parking for the marina and guests.

Pelican Rest Village will offer the finest in waterfront living. The luxurious tropical landscaped condos will have an awe-inspiring view along with the amenities of a restaurant and private pools. The Marina Village will have water sport rentals such as sailboats, jet skis, kayaks and small fishing boats.
Pelican Rest’s grand vision of a World Class Marina Facility will welcome Galveston residents and visitors as they arrive on the island. It will set the stage for what a coastal island community should and will be and will surely enhance the already charming island city.
For more information about Pelican Rest Marina, please call 409-744-2618, visit the website www.pelicanrestmarina.com or email info@pelicanrestmarina.com.

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