Galveston Plans Campground at Seawolf Park

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August 16, 2010 by   - () Leave a Comment

City tourism officials in Galveston, Texas, are planning to develop a 44-site RV park at Seawolf Park, home to naval exhibits and a regular fishing spot for generations of islanders and visiting anglers.

The park board wants to develop the RV park on a little more than four unused acres left of the entrance and just west of the parking lot, officials told the Galveston County Daily News.

An RV park wouldn’t take away any of the nearly 250 parking spaces at Seawolf Park, nor will it interfere with fishing or the naval exhibitions, Lou Muller, executive director of the park board, said.

But an RV park would generate revenue for the park board, Muller said. Each year, thousands of people visit Seawolf Park, the site of a quarantine station where decades ago thousands of immigrants first arrived on U.S. soil.

Seawolf Park is on the eastern point of Pelican Island. Among the tourist attractions at the park are World War II submarine USS Cavalla and destroyer escort USS Stewart. But probably the biggest attraction is the good inshore and bay fishing. An RV park would allow some anglers to stay overnight, Muller said.

Before the park board can move forward with the plan, other city entities must approve the development.

On Tuesday (Aug. 17), the planning commission will consider the park board’s request to rezone the land needed for the RV park from heavy industrial to planned development.

The land is bounded to the north, east and west by property zoned heavy industrial. A property to the south of the land is zoned one-family dwelling district but is separated from the proposed RV site by the Galveston Ship Channel, according to planning department reports.

Mostly, the surrounding land is vacant, with some industrial uses along Pelican Island’s southern coast, according to planning department reports.

Planning department staff, which recommends the commission approve the zoning change, agrees the RV park won’t hurt attractions at Seawolf Park.

The park board wants to capture tourism dollars from the growing number of retirees who have hit the road in their RVs.

The park board also owns and managed Dellanera RV Park on the island’s west end. The park has been closed since Hurricane Ike struck nearly two years ago. Crews are expected to begin repairing the park in September, completing the work in April, Muller said. The park board lost some Dellanera land when Ike chewed away at the beach, reducing the number of campsites to 65, Muller said. Through the years, erosion has taken its toll. When Dellanera opened in the 1980s, it boasted 84 campsites, Muller said.

In 2007, Dellanera RV park generated $518,000 in revenue. In 2008, before Ike struck, the park had generated $436,000, Muller said. A portion of the proceeds at Dellanera Park — 29.7% — must be used for cleanup, lifeguards and security on the beaches. But revenue generated at Seawolf Park RV park would not be and could be used anywhere in the park system, Muller said.

Camping fees at Dellanera RV Park change during the seasons and special events, but average about $38 a night, Muller said. Prices would be comparable at the proposed park.

RV owners are good for island tourism, Muller said.

“They buy provisions at local stores and visit attractions while they’re here,” Muller said. “RVing is growing, even in a tough economy, it’s still thriving.”

If the planning commission approved the zoning changes and other requests that would allow for development of an RV park, the city council would then take up the issue.

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