The residents of Crockett Park and Baybrook Place are celebrating after the City of Baytown held a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday for a new connector trail that provides safe pedestrian access to schools, parks, and businesses for over 270 homes.
The 1,600-foot long trail will be an 8-foot wide concrete path that starts at Blue Heron Parkway west of N. Main Street and winds along the Harris County Flood Control ditch to Crockett Park via Cinnamon Street and Baybrook Place via Christopher Lane. The trail is expected to open in late April or early May.
“I’m happy the city is building this trail because it will give the residents in my neighborhood a safer way to walk and join the Blue Heron Parkway part of the trail. Our kids will be able to use their bikes on the trail as well, which they are ecstatic about,” said Syn Almanza, a resident of Baybrook Place for 15 years.
Breaking ground on the trail’s construction is a relief for many people, said Heather Betancourth, Baytown City Councilwoman for District 4, who represents the area.
“I’ve personally been working on seeing this trail come to fruition since elected two years ago. I know the residents of this area have been working on it even longer. Even though this wasn’t the original solution they had in mind I think it is a great compromise between residents, the city, and county that addresses a critical public safety need,” Betancourth said.
It was over two years ago residents first expressed concern to city and Harris County officials during a community meeting that a lack of sidewalks and deep drainage ditches on Barkaloo Road was a safety hazard for their area located between Massey Tompkins and Blue Heron Parkway. Addressing community concerns with Barkaloo Road has proved challenging for city officials since a majority of it is owned and maintained by Harris County despite the residents living along it being within city limits.
Most of 2018 was spent negotiating a compromise between residents and the city, Betancourth said.
“To me, this was always a clear case of public safety and community mobility so I looked to our Parks and Recreation Department for a creative solution. It’s one of Council’s primary objectives to provide Baytown residents with alternate methods of safe travel. Sometimes that means more roads, but in this case, it means a walking trail that connects people to essential community assets like schools, parks, and food stores,” Betancourth said.
The city’s alternate solution was to build residents a hike-and-bike trail from the backside of their neighborhoods instead of the front using money from Baytown’s Municipal Development District, a fund that collects sales tax for community improvements. In addition to the trail, the city is also including over 150 feet of new residential sidewalks connecting the neighborhood to the trail. After funding was approved in October 2018, Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia’s office worked to provide all necessary approvals to build the trail along a county flood control ditch.
“I am extremely proud of Councilwoman Heather Betancourth leading the effort in connecting Baybrook Place and Crockett Park neighborhoods to Blue Heron Parkway trail system,” said Brandon Capetillo, Mayor of Baytown. “This project is a great example of our partnership between Baytown Parks and Recreation and Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia’s office.”