The Blue Heron Parkway is a total success story and I openly admit I not only voted against the expansion, but I was wrong in thinking it was stupid. I also confess that I will stop and ask for directions when I’m lost. Actually, as a geocacher, I’m never lost, but my first declaration of guilt is true.
When the issue of expanding Baker Road through what has traditionally been known as Honda Hills, and then crossing Barkuloo Road into the virgin woods behind Chaparral Village and intersecting with Sjolander Road was proposed, our town was experiencing tepid growth and I couldn’t for the life of me understand why so many people wanted to get to Sjolander Road. Whew! That was a long sentence.
Boy, I was short-sighted. Strike two! I’ve suspected for years that Baytown would experience exponential growth, but it arrived like an unexpected blue norther and caught our citizens with their back flaps down. If you think the 45 minute wait at Cheddars is bad now, guess what? We ain’t seen nothin’ yet
I listened to the Mayor of our fair city on Channel 16, whom I support wholeheartedly, talk about the traffic and speed of our motorists and what is to come and I wonder if Baytownians can fathom the congestion we are to experience over the next 5 years, as construction crews and support people flood our roads. Add into the equation the sad fact that a great number of motorists are looking at a small electronic device in their hands as they drive and we have a King Kong-sized monkey of a problem.
Now I understand why the Blue Heron Parkway was a look into the future of Baytown and applaud the city for having a futuristic vision. Let’s take a look at it. Behind Chaparral Village subdivision is a beautiful hike and bike cement sidewalk which intersects with the retention/detention pond and I read in the Baytown Sun this week that additional money has been found to run the sidewalk around the giant well-sculpted pond.
In addition is a letter I received from Parks Superintendent Scott Johnson where he assures me this new trail will be lighted with solar powered LED lighting! The trail and the 10 foot wide sidewalk on the south side of Blue Heron Parkway offers walkers, joggers, and cyclists over 4 miles of new lighted trails.
|Geocachers on the back trail.|
I sat down with Mayor Stephen DonCarlos, Public Affairs Coordinator Patti Jett, and Tourism Director Anna Enderli a few weeks ago and it is in the plans to make Baytown an official Geotour city. There is only one in Texas with others planned, but the general idea is, it is a mechanism to attract tourists (geocachers primarily) to our city where they visit all the key historic and interesting sites and boost our local economy. It was decided to go full bore ahead and with the help of Larry Houston, we may be a Geotour city sometime in 2015.
Our newest road Blue Heron Parkway also has a wonderful 10 foot wide sidewalk on the south side. Now, it is my understanding that any time a sidewalk of this dimension is placed as a hike/bike trail, it pretty much closes the land beside it to driveways and this is not only my hope, but all of us in Chaparral Village who live on Buffalo Trail and El Rancho Drive.
The Parkway is beautifully done, but cutting down the trees south of it to pour concrete will make it ugly and ruin the last sanctuary of forest for wildlife that lived there prior to the expansion. As we develop our city, we need to aggressively plan reforesting every available patch of public land with Texas natives and xeriscape plants. Defoliating our city has so many negative effects; it would take an additional 650 words to list them.
If you haven’t had the pleasure of driving on the Parkway, take a tour. However, try to avoid when Ross Sterling high school lets out, as the young studs in their fast cars and trucks like to rip down it to impress the other young studs. The girls of course couldn’t care less.