I live in Baytown by choice. I work in Deer Park slash La Porte, but Baytown is my adopted home of thirty-five years and it’s not likely I will move, even after retirement. I said all that to say this; it does matter to me what our city and area looks like – to me and many others who share a common idea of a hometown’s appearance.
When I want to know what our city leaders are thinking and planning, I make every attempt to ask them personally and they have yet to ignore or misdirect me and that’s just one reason I put the stamp of approval on Mayor DonCarlos, Garry Brumback, Bob Leiper and Scott Johnson. Kevin Troller (Assistant City Manager) hasn’t got my vote of confidence yet, as I haven’t had the pleasure of his acquaintance. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time though.
This past week two exchanges of information took place while I was trying to get information on the future of the city. One involved the marina, which I will get to in a bit and the other is a group of old tanks on Goose Creek close to SH-146 and West Main. These tanks are across Goose Creek from the sewage treatment facility and are a real eyesore to others and me.
Back in June of 1992 Congress and the EPA came up with what is now known as "Brownfield" land, which are by definition on Wikipedia as "abandoned or underused industrial and commercial facilities available for re-use" and some qualify for Federal monies to clean them up, et al.
I asked the Mayor and City Manager if the property with the old chemical tanks qualifies as Brownfield property. Mr. Brumback told me they were making attempts to contact the owner(s) and get permission to have a scrap dealer haul it all away. I suggested a boat ramp be built on this peninsula and maybe accommodations for fishing, the likes of which is on Goose Lake closer to Bayland Park. It’s possible the land could be donated to the city for a small park also.
Mayor DonCarlos told me "You have hit on one of my second term goals-to get all the old pilings, power poles, and assorted oil field debris out of Goose Creek, as well as to try to get the old well heads capped below ground and the surface equipment (tanks, etc.) removed. Pete Alfaro fiddled with the idea in the 90’s, but couldn’t find anyone to fund it. Garry and I have discussed attempting to get Brownfield funding, and I intend to approach the Railroad Commission for help-I understand they might have some funding for this sort of cleanup".
Mr. Brumback promised "I will keep you posted on our progress" and I in turn will keep those who follow my writing informed also.
Now, onto the subject of the Marina at Bayland Park and what the boat owners are thinking the city is doing. For the longest time I’ve wondered about this place and why it wasn’t covered with big beautiful palm trees to make it look appealing. I was contacted by Martin Tidswell, owner of the sailing vessel "Turtle" the other day and was asked to get some answers, so I took it directly to the Mayor. There is a terrific amount of misunderstanding, hard feelings and confusion evidentially, between the boat owners and the city and in Mr. Tidswell’s words, they feel like they have been "scattered to the wind and now don't even have the small voice we once might have had".
The Mayor responded immediately: "The insurance monies paid covered only the untangling of the docks and boats and the cost of a marine surveyor to supervise that giant "pixie sticks" pile cleanup. We have applied for Ike recovery funds to rebuild; although it should be covered, and we think will be, we haven't seen a dime of the FEMA replacement money for it yet. Oddly enough, I have had two discussions this morning on the subject of the marina. Another possibility is a possible sale/lease of the entire island to a private developer/operator. We have been contacted by several developers, but would only consider this avenue with tight restrictions on what could be built on the island".
The Mayor again: "Finally - I want the marina rebuilt. Its location at a major gateway to the City makes it crucial that we develop the area properly, and I believe the marina is central to the plan. I am glad that there are folks still passionate about it, and I hope we can get going on it soon".
Mr. Tidswell's responded: "The following are some of the boat owners complaints and may be clouded by our interactions with the city players.
We feel the marina failed because the pilings were of a substandard height. No other floating marina in the entire Galveston Bay area floated away. Neither the city nor Mr Hazelwood or any of his staff made the slightest attempt to secure the docks as was suggested in their information packet I received when I leased my slip.
The boat owners were told by Mr. Hazelwood on the Thursday after the storm that he didn't think supplying security was his responsibility. We owners took it upon ourselves to stand 24/7-armed watch on our boats AND the marina property for 23 days until we were supplied a fence and 2 days later a constable. We made fire a constant concern and set rules to prevent it.
We were not allowed to have any input in the choosing of contractors or negotiating rates and were treated poorly/rudely by the cities insurance carrier.
If you have been in Baytown a while I'm sure you know there are a lot of "unusual" political deals done over the years and they are still going on. As usual you will need to follow the money.
I guess the cities concept of "a lot of money" is a bit different than mine but let it stand that Mr. Hazelwood was making a pretty good return on his money.
I too am getting tired of beating this dead horse but having not seen the slightest hint of restoration at the marina I feel its my obligation to at least poke it from time to time".
Mayor DonCarlos answered: "We want these owners to return to the marina, and I will readily acknowledge that the situation after the storm was not a good one-we will try our best to do better next time, and to (hopefully) rebuild in a way that will give greater stability and reliability to the docks (i.e., taller pilings). I well remember the issues with the insurance carrier, and the trials that the owners were put through. All I can promise is that we will listen and try to improve the communications".
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