Search for Galveston hotel debris in Gulf

Demolition work at the Flagship Hotel in Galveston is underway

March 2, 2011 3:03:28 PM PST
Demolition work is in full swing in Galveston as the historic Flagship Hotel is being torn apart piece by piece.

But now there are accusations that some of those pieces, including large chunks of glass, are actually falling into the water and possibly endangering beachgoers.

City leaders and Landry's representatives met today to talk about the complaints of debris at the Flagship Hotel. Both the city and Landry's say there's nothing wrong, but the surfers in Galveston say they've got it wrong and they had video to show us.

Jeff Seinsheimer took video of what appears to be debris of some sort coming off the Flagship Hotel pier and landing in the water.

"It's there, and we need to get it cleaned up for spring break and the summer," Seinsheimer said.

The Flagship Hotel is undergoing demolition -- a slow dismantling of the 45-year-old hotel to make way for the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, owned and run by Landry's.

But local surfers are complaining that crews with contractor Ardent Construction are tossing debris, old glass windows and chunks of concrete into the waves.

Lauren Kenney is one of the surfers complaining on Galveston's surfing website, She says she saw the glass tossed off the pier last week.

"I was paddling out on the left side of Flagship and a construction worker was beating out these huge panes of glass with a crowbar and the shattered glass was just falling into the water," surfer Lauren Kenney said.

But the city's director of planning and community development says Ardent Construction was not found to be in violation of its demolition permit.

"The city has reports that it's very small uncontained debris in an isolated area. We are monitoring the project. The property owner has assured the city that they will remediate any debris that's found," said Wendy O'Donohoe with the city of Galveston.

Landry's issued a statement saying in part, "No violations were found and the project remains in compliance with the demolition permit issued for the project."

But Landry's and the city did meet Wednesday, with Landry's agreeing to actively look for any debris that may have fallen into the water and clean it up if any is found.

That mollifies Galveston's passionate surfing community -- for now.

"We're just going to keep an eye on them. The damage is done," Seinsheimer said.

The head of the beach patrol says it will be monitoring for any debris that could wash up.

Also, Galveston's surfing community has been concerned about what will happen to their access to the beach once the Pleasure Pier is completed.