A steering committee focused on getting the USS Texas Battleship to Baytown is looking for local businesses to help.
After the committee was formed, Jay Eshbach, who heads the group, came up with the idea of asking folks for pledges to help with the upkeep once the historic ship arrives in Baytown. Three pledges of $5,000 for five years came in, but since then, Eshbach said things have slowed a bit.
“So far, we have 52 pledges, but it only amounts to about $2,500,” Eshbach said. “That is not an impressive number. So, I sent an email out to my steering committee saying here are 30 businesses, banks, credit unions, and community members, including major restaurants, saying to call me and let’s get the business community behind us on this.”
Eshbach said he has also sent out about 40 to 50 letters to major benefactors that could pledge $1,000 to $2,000 a year for five years if Baytown gets the battleship.
Eshbach hopes to present the pledges to members of the Battleship Texas Foundation in an effort to show Baytonians will take care of the ship if it were to be berthed here.
“We are looking for the business community to get involved and help us with our pledges, so when we get our (request for proposal), we’ll have something substantial to present to them,” Eshbach said. “By presenting them with a sizable amount of pledges, we could get their attention rather than saying we have 100 donations at $100 apiece. Well, that is great, but that is $10,000 a year, and that will not put
a dent in the maintenance of the upkeep of the USS Texas.”
Eshbach said the committee is also trying to figure out when the battleship would be leaving to get repairs. The Texas legislature appropriated $35 million for the ship to undergo repairs, but it is still unknown when and where this will take place.
“We think it will in February or March, but we want to have a big deal at the battleship when it leaves,” Eshbach said.
Eshbach had reached out to the U.S. Navy to have its band perform the day the USS Texas is towed out to repairs, but they need a 90-day notice, and no one can say when exactly it is leaving.
“Maybe we can get some of the local bands or something like that to do it,” Eshbach said. “One steering committee member said we should invite all the veterans in Baytown and surrounding areas. If we did, they said there might 200 to 300 people show up. It is going to be veteran-related whenever it leaves.”
Eshbach stressed this is not a fundraiser.
“It will not cost them anything unless the battleship comes to Baytown,” he said. “We haven’t raised a penny, and we do not want to raise any money since that gets all kinds of headaches. We are just asking for pledges and support us on this and let’s see what happens. We are also working on what expenses will be from dredging, dry docking, building a museum and gift shop, installing a walking and viewing area around where it may be docked.”
Eshbach said a PowerPoint presentation about the battleship is available on a USB memory stick. This is available at the front desk of the Baytown Sun, 1301 Memorial Drive.
There are also pledge forms available at Baytown Sun front desk with VIP pledge forms, which include a stamped self-addressed envelope.
“This is so they can make their pledge and mail it back in,” Eshbach said. “Trying to make it as easy as possible for everyone.”
The Baytown Sun is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Interested folks can also email Eshbach at firstname.lastname@example.org. He will send you an application, and you can fax it, email it or drop it off at the Sun’s location.