Galveston's Pleasure Pier opening weekend brings parking concerns

May 28, 2012 7:23:00 PM PDT
For thousands of people, the long holiday weekend has meant a visit to the new Pleasure Pier in Galveston. It opened this weekend and with it came at least one major concern -- parking.

The Pleasure Pier is drawing thousands of visitors to its sneak peek. Some of its big thrill rides are not yet on line, but its soft opening is an ongoing success, a peek into the day when it may claim a million people a year.

Those who live nearby are more concerned about the now, rather than the future. In the shadow of the pleasure pier, Phillip Perez sees it all

"The volume of traffic that's down here this weekend is immense compared to previous years," Perez said.

It's about parking. A paid lot shared by the pier and neighboring restaurant has just over 400 spaces. A lot not far away has been added and streets in the surrounding neighborhoods now have new signs that say residential parking only, or have two-hour time limits, which created a traffic jam near paid parking lots.

"You couldn't even cross the street without getting hit," said visitor Matt Gates.

Despite the opening holiday weekend, police report only 15 citations issued through Sunday night. No cars were towed, but the giant draw of an amusement park on the Gulf is instantly bringing in more people.

"Progress doesn't come without a price and our challenge has doubled for our residents to co-exist with industry and economic development and making sure we co-exist properly," said Galveston Police Chief Henry Poretto.

One problem, at least for this weekend, is that residential parking permits have not been issued. When the grand opening takes place, which should be soon, the crowds will grow and so will traffic. Neighbors and pier-goers both hope so will the parking.

"This versus Kemah -- you can get in and out there. And I passed Kemah to come here," said Darryl Foots, who drove from The Woodlands.

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