In the wake of the Battleship Texas Foundation saying no again to a Galveston committee’s proposal to move the World War I-era battleship to Seawolf Park, the head of a Baytown committee is feeling better about Baytown’s chances of having it moved here.
A committee of Galveston residents that wants to bring the ship to their town provided a report to Galveston’s city council saying Seawolf Park would be the best place for it. However, the ship’s Foundation said no.
“We’ve told them from the beginning, Seawolf Park is not an option,” Bruce Bramlett, the Foundation executive director, said.
But to Jay Eshbach, who heads the Baytown committee, this is great news.
“The Battleship Texas Foundation approached Galveston nine months ago and said we want to bring it to you,” Eshbach said. “Galveston said, ‘Great. We’ll put you at Seawolf Park.’ And the Foundation came back and said no way, we are not going there. Then, back in August, about time we got into the fray, the Foundation approached Galveston and said since they have the highest tourist count of anyone around, we definitely want to bring it there. And Galveston again said, ‘Great. We’ll put you at Seawolf Park.’ But the Foundation said no. They want the ship to be downtown.”
Eshbach said shortly after that, Galveston city council said it was opposed bringing the battleship to Pier 21.
“This was brought to council members in August in open session, and they said we do not want the battleship here,” Eshbach said. “It will take up too much space, and there is no parking space. So, two councilpersons said no, we don’t want it.”
Eshbach said from a Baytown perspective in Baytown, the news is phenomenal.
“I do not want to pick on Galveston, but this makes three times they said we are going to Seawolf, and three times they were told no,” he said.
Eshbach said his committee is now awaiting a Request for Proposal from the Foundation, which is expected to be sent at the end of the month.
“We have no idea what will be in the proposal,” he said. “But, we are working on things that we will add to the proposal like traffic count over the Fred Hartman Bridge and the number of people it should generate to the battleship coming over the bridge.”
Eshbach said the committee is also looking into advertising in magazines such as Texas Monthly, the Baytown Chamber of Commerce’s magazine and the Baytown Sun’s magazine, “Greater Baytown.”
“We have all of our guns together to answer the RFP, but we are not sure of what they will need,” Eshbach said.
Eshbach had been asking for pledges to help with the maintenance of the ship once it arrives in Baytown. He said the last count is up to $27,400 for a year for the next five years.
If any Baytown citizen is interested in making a pledge, they can pick up an application at the Baytown Sun between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1301 Memorial Drive, Baytown, Monday through Friday.
They can also email Eshbach at email@example.com. He will send you an application, and you can fax it, email it or drop it off at the Sun’s location.
Galveston group pitches Seawolf Park for battleship; foundation says no way
By KERI HEATH
The Galveston Co. Daily News
A committee of Galveston residents wanting to bring the Battleship Texas to Galveston has released a final report recommending Seawolf Park as the ideal place for the historic ship, which is the last place the organization in charge of the ship wants it berthed.
The Battleship Texas Foundation expects to launch its formal process to find a new berth for the ship by the end of this month.
The foundation raises money for the ship and promotes it to visitors.
Talks about moving the World War I-era battleship from its berth near the San Jacinto Battle Monument in La Porte emerged this summer when the Texas Legislature announced it would no longer maintain the ship and gave the foundation $35 million to float the boat to a shipyard for repairs and find it a new home.
The foundation has been looking for somewhere with higher visitation to help pay for restoration and maintenance costs.
Baytown area residents and city officials are pushing for a berth near Bayland Island in Baytown for the World War I dreadnaught.
Seawolf Park does pose some challenges but ultimately is an ideal location, Galveston committee member and report author Charles Wiley said.
Seawolf Park, operated by the Galveston Park Board of Trustees, already is home to two historic ships, the USS Stewart and the USS Cavalla.
But the foundation has ardently opposed putting the Battleship Texas at Seawolf Park, citing worries over low park attendance and the park’s location on Pelican Island.
“We’ve told them from the beginning, Seawolf Park is not an option,” said Bruce Bramlett, executive director of the foundation.
The park attracts about 80,000 people annually, according to park board records.
The ship will need about 300,000 visitors a year to pay for needed repair costs, state officials have said.
Wiley expects attendance at Seawolf Park to grow if the Battleship Texas were there, he said.
The committee also had considered Pier 21, the Galveston Yacht Basin and the East End flats, among other locations.
The flats and the yacht basin would have required a time-consuming public-private partnership, Wiley said.
And placing the boat at Pier 21 would raise parking challenges and concerns from area property owners that have long-term plans for the area, according to the report.
the foundation expects to open a formal process to submit proposals for the ship’s new home, Bramlett said.