Saturday, April 21, 2007

Barge Terminal on Cedar Bayou

I took two panoramic photos on Cedar Bayou from atop the Spur 55 Bridge and one from the Roseland Park bulkhead. On the right side of the bayou (in photo one and two) is an inlet where a barge terminal is projected to be built. On the left side is Roseland Park. Some folks feel the terminal will destroy the aesthetic beauty of the bayou. I personally think it won't, especially when the opposite bank is viewed from the Park (photo 3).

This bayou once had extensive barge traffic on it from the many brick factories on its shores. I would like to see expanded, environmentally stable commerce again, which pumped tax dollars and jobs into the economy. Of course, the ecosystem would have to be closely monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency and watchdog groups to insure bayou safety.

What citizens need to see from the developers of Richardson WaterRail terminal is an aerial view, plus a CGI (computer graphics interface) view of what the terminal will look like from the angles my panoramic views show and the one from Roseland Park. Only then can we make an accurate conclusion and only then can we say for sure if it is acceptable.

Anything short of this is pure assumption that the terminal will spoil the view and pollute the bayou on everyone’s part, especially those who feel so strongly on this subject.

Some concerned citizens are firmly convinced that a terminal will open up the bayou for a giant container lay-down yard and giant barges. I haven’t read anything about a container storage yard or bringing in giant barges the likes of which are on the Houston Ship Channel and the lower San Jacinto River, but if that is the plan, I am against it.

Here is some food for thought about a past commerce/environment battle:

Back in 1969 ARCO discovered the largest reserve of oil in North America at Prudhoe Bay. It would make the USA much less dependant on foreign oil and based on the probability that drilling would be permitted, ARCO and other companies began assembling millions of dollars worth of equipment. They maintained this stalled equipment for many years at great financial loss, while folks bolstered opposition.

At the time a 42 gallon barrel of oil was $3 on the world market. Environmentalists and Native Americans came out against the project, stalling it for years because it would be SO bad for the environment (turned out to have no effect). Prior to this objection, folks welcomed the expanding jobs and the commerce it brought.

When OPEC decided to cut off oil exports to the USA in the 70's (causing the gas shortage), Congress okayed the ARCO pipeline within 2 weeks and the project was eventually completed. All in all, the resistance to the pipeline and over-concern about the environment stalled the whole process about 10 years and made us more dependent on foreign oil than ever before. Oil jumped from $3 a bbl to $11 a bbl and made the Arabs and Hugo Chavez even richer.

Robert O. Anderson, the CEO of ARCO wrote in his memoirs that the majority of objection was strictly politically motivated and had little to do with the environment. If those of us with an economic vision are going to be held as unpatriotic citizens, then we better be sure that hindering commercial progress is as bad as its being made out to be, before we start resisting it and the jobs it will bring to this old oil-blue collar town.

Since this time, EPA guidelines and environmental awareness has limited, excluded, hindered and downright squashed development in so many areas that it is downright impossible for investors to get anything other than apartments and storage building built in this country…and everyone complains about outsourcing and jobs going overseas.

Every navigational waterway in every part of the world is eventually developed by commerce. The key here is balancing aesthetics with function and in my opinion, before everyone gets up in arms about this new development destroying the bayou; let’s see what cards the Design Company is holding.

Attorney Alison Haynes was quoted by Jessica Robertson as saying “For each barge pushed through our barge docks, you’re taking between 58 and 75 trucks off the road. That is significant in diesel emissions. By reducing the tractor trailer traffic from any of the Ports of Houston into Cedar Crossing, you are reducing the citizenry exposure to dangerous levels of carcinogens.” Jessica Robertson also reported “After discussions with city management, design plans have been changed to include a buffer of hearty vegetation around all sides of the property, Haynes said, although an L-shaped buffer was initially proposed”.

We can’t have oil cakes and without eating some of it too, folks.

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