Skip to main content

Beating a dead horse?




 We are really in for it.  “It” being what Baytown is to become in our near future.

I think its time to remind folks that this sleepy little tri-settlement is no more.  Back in 1974 when I made Baytown my home, a person could exit the tunnel on this side of the ship channel and not see a single light until the Holiday Inn close to Texas Avenue came into sight.  Not a single light bulb was burning, because it was out in the country.

In this same area, there will soon be a flyover heading onto Highway 99 and a second bridge over Cedar Bayou.  Below the second bridge will be a large barge terminal that no one here wanted.  Thank you Sammy Mahan for setting me straight on this.   I saw it as jobs for Baytownians and not as something that would lower the standard of those who live nearby.

My answer then (after attempts failed to stop the building of the terminal) was to hold the city’s feet to the fire to force environmental, sound-abatement, and aesthetic concessions. 

I was against banning of cigarette smoking inside bars and food establishments after they were forced to put in mega-expensive ventilation systems to accommodate non-smokers.  I was against removing the red light cameras and still am, but other than getting a laugh out of smoking out the Madalyn Murray O’Hair of red light cameras, I accepted it.

The next big thing I didn’t vote for was the expansion of the Blue Heron Parkway.  I felt like my fellow citizens let us local folks down by voting for a useless road through our woods, just so people could drive to Sjolander Road.  What?  “Why would anyone want a shortcut there”, was my reasoning.

Turns out it was a lot of people, me included.  I was wrong – but, I hounded my councilman and the city to do the very thing I suggested they do with the barge terminal - force environmental, sound-abatement, and aesthetic concessions.  No luck on sound abatement, but wow!  It is beautiful and with the hike and bike trails and the awesome-looking detention/retention pond, it is a real eye pleaser.

We planted 55 trees and will probably plant 55 more when the money becomes available and the trails and road are heavily used.  So it turns out this giant negative was actually a positive.  Now I can’t say that the barge terminal will be a positive, but don’t give up on making it appear and sound acceptable.  Just don’t stop forcing those concessions.

When it comes to making our city leaders accountable, there is no such thing as beating a dead horse.  It’s been my personal experience that they listen.  I have had a fantastic response from our city officials and basically because they know I actually care about Baytown.  I even got a high-five from T-Bone Schaffer when I was involved in the Baytown Concerned Citizen’s movement and to me, that was something special.

This brings us to the present serious issue of the planned Transportation Center beside Gentry Junior School.  Seeing emissions are a very big part of the complaint, a simple exhaust header could be erected behind the many parked buses with flexible hoses.  When a bus is parked and before it is started, the hose could be attached to the tail pipe and while the bus is idling, the vapors are ran through a scrubber.  This is very common in all the chemical plants and allows almost zero emissions to go to the atmosphere.

When the bus is ready to leave, they simply drive away and the hose automatically disconnects, closing itself off.  At present, every bus at Stallworth Stadium discharges exhaust to the atmosphere, so this would be an ecological improvement.

Next is noise and light abatement and with proper landscaping and noise reducing vegetation and sound absorbing panels, this could be properly negated.  The vacant view across that field being viewed as pristine is somewhat a mystery to me, but maybe to the locals it is beautiful.

The main point of this column isn’t that we should build the Transportation Center on Archer Road, but that the city is growing and there will be terrible concessions to many people who still believe they are living in the country.  They are not.  Little Pelly-Baytown-Goose Creek is no more.  We are the biggest thing east of Houston and God help us if they ever try to absorb us.

I predict that one of the next projects will be to four-lane Sjolander Road all the way to I-10 and widen Archer all the way to Garth or further.  We will see many more Hunt roads cutting across fields with many more people displaced.  Twenty years ago I heard this was going to happen and now it is.  There ain’t no more “country” in Baytown and the sooner we accept that, the quicker we can start holding the city’s feet to the fire to make the improvements appealing and most importantly, safe for residents.


Comments

Anonymous said…
Sandi White: I admire someone who can see the error of their ways and can make a gracious turn-around. At least you aren't in the position of NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, who seemed to have lied through his teeth and is now being forced to eat those words. 20 years ago I wouldn't have seen that from the Gold Dome in Atlanta to the outskirts of Alpharetta would be one huge expanse of commercial and residential sprawl. All one big city. And not a blade of grass to be seen.
2 hrs · LikeReply
Anonymous said…
DDC: Great article in The Baytown Sun this morning. I always really look forward to reading it on Fridays.
Anonymous said…
Aaahhh Progress!!!! Build it and they will come? Well, Bert, not sure I agree with all of it, but, I do agree with your gifted ability and freedom to write about it!! Love to read your column since you agree with me 95%of the time.
Born in Baytown Jun 24, 1942 at Lilly Duke hospital...so I am one of the old timers and proud of it!!! Keep on keeping on, Bert!!!
Anonymous said…
Star Lit: I am less concerned with the horse than I am the rider.

Popular posts from this blog

Camp fires, wood smoke, and burning leaves.

When I was a kid, everyone burned leaves in the fall. I always enjoyed it so much.It was a happy time. Man, that smell was amazing and you couldn’t go anywhere without smelling it. Of course now I know that it is a major source of air pollution and those of us that live inside the city limits are restricted from doing it. I don’t think I would burn them anyway, choosing to compost instead.
The whole family would engage in raking the yard and the reward was burning the leaves. The thick gray smoke would pour out like liquid clouds and we would run through it. Afterward, we smelled like smoke, but we didn’t care. I would wager that most people under the age of 30 have never even raked leaves into a pile, let alone burn them.
Growing up in north Georgia in the late 60’s, my 3 brothers and I would camp out most of the summer and burn anything and everything on our campfire. At the end of summer there wouldn’t be a stick, pine cone, or needle on the ground. We smelled like mountain men a…

Riding the waves

Back in 1974, after coming back to the USA from the unpleasant conflict in Southeast Asia, I was stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc, California. Vandenberg has 20 miles of coastline that is basically closed to the public and people in residence, regardless if you are in the military or not. This rule didn’t seem to affect my fellow airmen and I from going body surfing on a lonely stretch of beach, far from controlling authorities. There was a submerged shelf that ran out a couple three hundred yards from the beach that was flat and about 6 feet deep.You could swim way out there and as the ocean waves came in, they would hit that shelf and make 5 feet high waves that white-capped all the way in. Now mind you, this was pre-Jaws and none of us had ever heard of a Great White shark. Year later I read where this stretch of beach was prime habitat and a couple years ago, an airman was killed right there.
We had been in the 65 degree water for about an hour and I was turning …

Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic

I wish I could remember who it was that said you can get a basic education in three years, but let us take a look at Ben Franklin as an example of that. We have a family joke that the answer to almost any Jeopardy clue is almost always “Who was Ben Franklin?”
When I am asked who I would most likely enjoy an afternoon with, it is always Ol’ Ben, the only President of the United States, who was never the President of the United States. Did you know he was the master of self-promotion and a man I admire? Even as a young lad, if he spotted a person of higher station, he would grab a shovel or some tool and begin to work diligently. The person would see him and remark, “What a fine worker that young man is!”
I’ve read a couple of books on the man and it still amazes me that he did so much with so little organized education. “From 1714-1716, Franklin attended Boston Grammar School and George Brownell's English School (for one year each) but he was withdrawn due to the expense of formal…