As the old saying goes, I wasn’t born here, but I came as soon as I heard about it. Baytown is my town of choice. I’m not sure if I adopted it, or it adopted me, but one thing is a warm fact – folks call me Baytown Bert and for good reason.
“What is that reason there fella?”The reason is I promote living here and expanding our parks. Yea, I have never been guilty of calling Baytown,”the dirty bay”. In fact, it ain’t a dirty bay at all; not unless you want to call the Gulf of Mexico west of the Mississippi River, the dirty Gulf. We do have 7 bays and estuaries and these are breeding grounds for all kinds of aquatic life and yes, sometimes due to rainfall there is a good mix of salt and silt in the waters surrounding our town.
Estuaries provide habitats for a large number of organisms and support very high productivity for many fish species. Also, migratory bird populations make essential use of these sanctuaries and this is just one reason dredging Goose Creek could be detrimental. Sure, I'd love to see it opened up for more kayaking and boating, but it would probably upset a very delicate balance in nature.Baytown has two fantastic resources to learn about the birds, animals, reptiles, and fish here. One is dedicated to education and the other is hands-on with many monthly activities and both locations are staffed by experts in nature. The first is the Eddie V. Gray Wetlands Center and is a plethora of resources with Tracey Prothro running the educational facility.
The Hand of the Queen, Crissy Butcher rules the Baytown Nature Center and both are very approachable and knowledgeable. Whatever funding can be gathered to assist this resource should be a major priority. Every month, Audubon Society members gather from across the entire Gulf Coast to count birds right here in Baytown, as well as those who come to photograph the bald eagles on Tri City Beach Road.Speaking of that, let’s put down rock over there to facilitate parking. It’s a muddy mess and creates a negative memory for our visitors.
It might be obvious that my passion is the quality of life here in this oil town. Sure I care that we have quality restaurants and giant retail outfits moving in. I put that on a level with big fast-moving superhighways, but does it raise the quality of my life? Uh, I can say it makes my life a little easier in some ways and more complicated in others and does nothing for my peace of mind or bragging rights.
Imagine this dialogue. “Hey! I’m from Baytown and we have a great big bridge, super access to I-10, and an incredibly congested Garth road loaded with all kinds of stores and, oh yea, a Buc-ee’s!”
“Why would I want to go there, except to get out of town and get gas and beaver nuggets?”Or try this one on for size, “Hey, I’m from Baytown!”
“Wow, isn’t that the city with the water park, incredible disc golf course, and extensive hike and bike trails?”“Yea, and more parks per capita than any other Texas city.”
“Wow! Tell me more.”I am very excited about the Walter Jenkins Park future expansion, where our parks planners develop a network of new trails. I’ve suggested that they expand it by certifying a true 5K trail with easily identified markers so joggers can train for events and races.
One current councilman flippantly inferred that the real issues about living in Baytown were beyond my small vision and that “worrying about our parks” was what I was good at, so I am going to go with that and let him take on the stuff that really matters…Wait a second. Let me think on that a bit.
I was initially against the Blue Heron Parkway expansion and detention/retention pond project, but I changed my tune. The city planners have created a masterpiece and I am anxiously waiting to see how they develop the pond area. Gene Green Beltway 8 Park would be worth studying as a blueprint. We will need a pedestrian bridge connecting the parkway with Jenkins park so we can add the great sidewalks there to our hike/biking.The Goose Creek trail needs lighting. There, I said it. For the most part, it is a great trail, but folks do not feel secure on it. I own about fifteen geocaches on it and it gets regular visits by the intrepid game players who are used to remote areas, but it can handle a lot more traffic.
The Goose Creek Park behind the old San Jac Hospital is also going to receive an upgrade and this is good news. Now we just need to prod the current owner of the old hospital to renovate it so it doesn’t look like the Bates motel.I own and operate a website about Baytown and its history. I am always looking for old photographs and memories. Submit them to: http://www.ourbaytown.com