City officials are taking steps to get involved in the effort to bring the USS Texas battleship to Baytown.
A group of civic leaders met with Jay Eshbach, who is leading an effort to bring the historic ship to Baytown, and other citizens Wednesday to discuss ideas.
An official name was established during the meeting at The Baytown Sun: The Bring the Battleship to Baytown Committee. This is similar to the name of a Facebook site put together by Baytown residents Jake Daniel and Russell Hamman.
Many prominent citizens are on the committee. This includes David Kadjar, former Baytown Mayor Calvin Mundinger, former council member Ronnie Anderson, Texas First Bank Senior Vice President Mike Wilson, and Matthew Faulkner. Members of The Baytown Sun’s Reader Advisory Board were also present for the meeting, including M.A. Bengtson, Jim Finley, Fred Aguilar and Baytown Sun Publisher Carol Skewes. Mayor Brandon Capetillo was also at the meeting along with City Manager Rick Davis and Associate Executive Director of the Baytown/West Chambers County Economic Development Foundation B.J. Simon.
Since the battleship would sit next to the hotel/convention center, Davis was asked how long did he think it would be before that project is finished.
“It will be about 18 to 20 months before the hotel/convention center is built,” he said.
Council is expected to name a council member as a representative of the newly formed committee. The committee agreed since the battleship would be placed at Bayland Island, Councilwoman Laura Alvarado is the most likely candidate to be named at the Jan. 23 council meeting since that falls within her district.
Council will also help identify key efforts for sub-committees. This includes different aspects of bringing the ship to Baytown, such as dredging, engineering, analytics, marketing, and sustainability.
“For instance, we would need somebody assigned to the engineering portion,” Capetillo said. “And what about the analytics? What does that look like as far as visitation? That is the biggest factor. You need people to come to the ship. That is key.”
The committee is awaiting a Request for Proposal from the Battleship Foundation, which is expected this month.
“The Foundation is going to put out an RFP, and basically ask us to tell them our story,” Capetillo said. “What are you going to do to bring the battleship here? How will you fund it? What about maintenance? Convince us that this is the most prominent, financially sustainable location to put this national treasure. We have to put our best foot forward. We have to tell a story we can do and deliver it.”
Simon said the final touches of the RFP should be delivered sometime this week.
“The idea is the City of Baytown would be the recipient of the RFP,” Simon said.
Eshbach said they are working on what to say once the committee receives the RFP from the Battleship Foundation. He also praised the City of Baytown for work on a rough draft of a marketing brochure.
“The (City of Baytown) tourist department did a bang-up job,” he said. “And from an accumulation of 6 to 8 months of hundreds of conversations with people that run other historic ships around the country, they say they have visitors from all 50 states. I would be impressed with visitors from all 50 states. It is not Baytown, Harris County or Texas, if we can draw in people from all 50 states.”