HOUSTON—Galveston’s Pleasure Pier opened to rave reviews and large crowds over the Memorial Day weekend. But neighbors of the new amusement park destination at 25th and Seawall Boulevard say the traffic headaches it brings aren’t pleasurable at all.
Memorial Day traffic moved at a slow crawl past the former site of the Flagship Hotel. The pay parking lot across the street adjacent to Fish Tales restaurant was nearly full by 1 p.m. And Pleasure Pier patrons began parking on neighborhood side streets within the first three blocks north of the pier.
But the City of Galveston has installed “residents only” parking signs in those neighborhoods in an attempt to keep tourists from taking valuable limited curb-side parking spaces. Island visitors parked there anyway knowing that the city has yet to distribute neighborhood parking decals to differentiate island resident cars from tourist vehicles. The parking decals are supposed to be available to island residents in the next two weeks.
“It’s gonna get even worse. This is just the beginning here,” said Rafael Galindo, who lives just a few blocks from the Pleasure Pier. “And I have people coming , sister’s family coming in, and where are they gonna be parking at.”
“It’s like Mardi Gras every day now,” said Spring resident Charlie Guilbeau who owns a vacation home a half block away from the Pleasure Pier parking lot. “You know it’s nuts.”
But the Galveston Police chief said his officers will still be enforcing the new parking rules as best they can. In the interim he asked that visitors and islands be patient with a new traffic reality in Galveston, one that is bringing valuable dollars to the island.
“This is a change for our island. It’s a positive growth and we’re continuing to work through the challenges we face” said Chief Henry Porretto. “We haven’t been faced with these challenges in quite some time. They’re good challenges for our city to have.”
Major hotels like the San Luis also provide shuttle bus service to and from the Pleasure Pier.