Friday, October 18, 2013

Welcome to Baytown!

This is what many believe to be a typical Baytownian.

“A horrible black hole of a town. it sucks you in and it is almost impossible to break it's hold on you. It is full of worthless men and stupid women. The few good people are always trying to get out. AKA Dirty Bay   God I can't wait to get out of Baytown.”

On more than one occasion, it’s been pointed out to me that I obsess over city parks, hiking and biking trails, and over-concentrating on making Baytown friendlier to joggers and people who enjoy riding a bicycle on our road’s shoulders.  One current councilman told me one time that’s all I need to worry about and he would worry about everything else.  He scored zero points with me for that self-righteous smug and flippant remark.

Although I admit he was partially true and I say partially because frankly, there’s hardly a shoulder on any of our side roads.  Riding a bicycle around Baytown is akin to playing in the street – not a smart thing to do at all.  Forget that on any given weekend around the state, thousands of educated and hard-working Texans are competing in foot and bike races, or training for the MS-150, so when I read Chris Presley and Scott Sheley’s stance on the “most viable source of future revenue for the city” in the Baytown Sun, Tuesday, I took a keen interest.

And a little alarm sounded.

Presley went first with this: “We need to stop declining property values. Property values do not appreciate in Baytown like in most other communities. In fact, values have been trending downward in District 2 in recent years. If we can find ways to better stabilize our older neighborhoods and better stabilize those property values, in tandem with being more fiscally responsible with taxpayer’s dollars, we could eventually roll back the tax rate.”

“These people are known to be generally hard-working, if somewhat unsophisticated. Many of these people could be called hillbillies or swampers. Trailer trash is commonly seen in and around the Baytown area. Sometimes these people are referred to as "refinery trash."
Sometimes these people are referred to as "refinery trash."
Mr. Presley is in line with what I believe.  Not only do we need to stop the downward slide, we need to encourage high end house-building by hook or crook.  It’s been a pet peeve of mine for some time that many who speak about supporting this town, live in Sommerwood, Atascocita, or Jersey Village – anywhere but the Dirty Bay – a term I resent by the way. 

Sheley’s reply sounded okay, but did not make provision for expanding amenities, namely fixing up “what we already got.”  Now I like Scott.  I think he’s a great guy and to my knowledge, I haven’t met Chris and what I am saying is simple.  If we want Baytown to grow, we have to bring it all up at the same time and not just push business expansion.

Sure, Pirate’s Bay is a money maker.  I’ve never been there, but folks seem to like it and I have no problem supporting Mr. Sheley on his idea to promote it.  I like the idea of the Industrial complex kicking in their share also, but if either of these fellows were in my district and they said we’re going to three-lane the heavily traveled McKinney Road and add sidewalks or connect all of our parks with a hike bike trail (or die trying to get funding), I would poke a hole in their ballot in a heartbeat.

“A crappy city East of Houston that has absolutely nothing to do or see except for a mediocre mall in which half of the stores are either closed or run by ######”.

I’ve got my feelers out and have been communicating with Dustin Schubert and John Dupois about the future of Jenkins Park and the Blue Heron Parkway and as soon as something concrete – no pun intended, becomes available, they are going to help me bring it to this column.

Baytown is in serious need of a certified 3.1 mile (5K) loop so runners can train for races.  A 6.2 mile (10K) trail  would be better.  Recently, my bride and I have been over off Beltway 8 and highway 90 to the Gene Green Beltway 8 Park, which is a well kept secret.  It’s basically two detainment ponds separated by a forest.  The forest is a giant dog park with a hiking trail snaking through it and around the 250 acres is a wide cement sidewalk measuring 2 miles per circuit.
A small part of the Gene Green Beltway 8 Park
Inside, the environmentally-friendly park’s most popular features are a zip-line, an extensive exercise area, a kiddie spray park, tennis and basketball courts, a BMX freestyle course, dog runs, paved trails, an amphitheater and well-equipped skate park.  It also has a first class restroom, something we can’t have at Walter Jenkins park due to recurring vandalism.  We have a portacan.

“Baytown, the ultimate low of existence.”

Am I saying that Channelview Texas has a better park than the entire city of Baytown?  Yes, I am and it saddens me.  No, it embarrasses me.  We have been in this heavily used park a number of times and always there are men, women, and children of all ethnicities exercising in a safe environment.

Again, I am not knocking our Park’s super – I think he does a great job.  I can’t go into one of our parks without seeing maintenance crews doing the place right.  What puzzles me is how can these other areas I visit have what we have and seemingly so much more?  I’ve been to some retention/detention ponds that have fountains, bridges, benches and all kinds of other amenities and I want it for Baytown.

Pond B of the Baker Road Extension - Future Retention pond.
Our Park engineer Dustin Schubert replied to my questions about expansion in an email, knowing full well I will quote him verbatim.  On the Jenkins park connector it is high on our list to make that connection, however funds are not available in the near future On the retention basin we have not put a plan together as to what amenities it will have.”

City Council.  Find the funding.  Make Baytown a place where proud Baytownians who have 6 figure incomes want to raise their families, spend their money, and jog, ride their bikes, and support this town.

Quotes, compliments of


Anonymous said...

I just finished reading your column in The Sun today, and I want to personally thank you for writing it. I moved to Baytown five years ago, and I see the exact problems you spoke about. Continue writing, and continue pushing for a livable community. People should be able to work, live, and play all in Baytown. Have a good day!


Anonymous said...

I agree. I'd take Baytown over this area any day though. Watching the Beaumont area puts me in mind of Detroit, declining population, declining properties, block after block of vacant lots, crappy streets still without proper drainage, a lousy school district that has caused the exodus of thousands of people with school age children and an apathetic and clueless city administration. We're becoming the Detroit of Texas and too many people are perfectly happy with maintaining the status quo. DT

Anonymous said...

I would have thought that Baytown would have a lot of $ from the taxes that Exxon pays each and every year.

Anonymous said...

Excellent article. CB

Anonymous said...

You make me want to move there just to help the cause.

. . . . . said...

A sad coincidence is today when this column published, a man was ran over while walking on a shoulderless road, without a sidewalk and killed, right here in the Houston area.

"HOUSTON – A 71-year-old SUV driver who struck and killed a man walking in southwest Houston Thursday night was charged by police.

HPD said a 48-year-old man was walking westbound in the 4600 block of Allum at Player shortly before midnight when he was struck by a gold Pontiac Montana and died at the scene.

Police said there was no sidewalk or shoulder on the roadway and the SUV driver did not see the pedestrian until it was too late.

The SUV driver, however, had been drinking, police say.

Marcos Frias Velasquez was charged with driving while intoxicated. It was his second offense."

Anonymous said...

Well written, Bert. GF

Anonymous said...

You sir, are my hero. I seriously need a place, THAT IS SAFE, to train for my 5k's and my *fingers crossed* attempt at a half marathon. My husband doesn't run with me and my running partner only has 2 days a week off. I run alone a lot. I think that if we had such facilities-- we could have running groups that could support new and lone runners and promote better health. I hope they hear you and take this to heart. TC

Anonymous said...

Your article in the Sun was outstanding, brother! DC

Anonymous said...

Bet you'll get a following in Baytown. Good article, very bold....Debi

Anonymous said...

Excellent article...Baytown is down but not out. People underestimate the value and worth here, mainly because things have slipped for the worst because of crime and the degradation of our once proud mall. All it takes is someone with the courage to lift Baytown up.

Great writeup

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you made the most popular list but you spelled out Baytown truthfully. You do live in the hiking bubble like I live in the fishing bubble. It's OK though because someone has to say something. I believe all the brush offs from council will see they are very visible now in body language and actions. I took about 25 pictures last summer of people fishing AT the signs that say no fishing. I asked one black couple at Roseland why they did it. They told my it was an old trick to make you think this spot was not a good fishing area. I assume they are scout leaders somewhere and you can't fix stupid. Good Luck and keep it up until they give in. Andy Dufresne got a library from consistency. SL

Anonymous said...

Git 'em, Bert! JL

Anonymous said...

Let er rip tater chip!!!! BC

Anonymous said...

Fabulous! You have a gift, BB. So glad you are sharing it. SW

Anonymous said...

Hi Bert,

Read your Oct. 18 article, good work.

Here's another reason why high-end housing hasn't come to Baytown.

City officials/leaders are currently trying to change zoning codes to allow expanded, and new oil/gas drilling in Baytown neighborhoods. The current zoning focus is on the land area known as the Goose Creek Oil Field in which the semi-upscale Evergreen Fairways neighborhood is located.

I also read where BJ Simon had recently met with 8 housing developers to discuss possible high-end housing for Baytown. As soon as those developers find out about the proposed zoning changes, they're gone.

Here's a link to the proposed zoning changes. Check out Agenda Item 3b after downloading the Oct. 15 PZ meeting pdf packet.


Anonymous said...

Bert, I read your article; extremely well articulated. I would like to see more running/biking routes in our community. I frequently go down to Seabrook to run the trails, and Clear Lake to ride. DK

Anonymous said...

I'm not from Baytown but I'm glad they have a Champion in you. It's good to see you back on the job! SW

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the zoning, I would encourage you to get the facts and not accept this individual's assertions at face value. SD

Anna Singleton said...

I like that you care about the town. If it is an obsession it is not a bad one. I drove down Hutto Dr. the other day and it was a nice little stretch. I wish more of the town looked like that. We also need a nice big park north of town. I like your ideas and keep up the good work. I may be one of the ones leaving when we retire, but it sure would be nice to have a nice looking town while here. Nice walkways with foliage, bike rider space on the roadways. I am not sure if I understand the busing people in and then not having sidewalks on both sides of the streets. If you can address that. We are getting lots of foot traffic where the bus stops are, but have no proper trails sidewalks around town for the people.

It can only happen while shopping!

As the big man is my witness, every word of this is unquestionable and void of hyperbolic incredibility. With that taken into consid...