To help bring the USS Texas battleship to Baytown, city council is doing its part by appointing a representative as well as an alternate to a committee set on bringing the battleship to town.
Laura Alvarado, the city’s District 1 representative, was unanimously appointed to represent the city on the Bring the Battleship to Baytown Committee, a group of citizens attempting to convince the Battleship Foundation to bring the historic dreadnought to Baytown.
“It is an exciting opportunity since I know the committee has already been doing the legwork,” Alvarado said. “I am excited to be on the committee and listen to their thoughts and what this will mean to the Baytown community as a whole.”
Jay Eshbach, a community leader who is head of Baytown’s battleship committee, said the Battleship Foundation has sent out the long-awaited Request for Proposal.
“The city is working on it,” Eshbach said. “We are going to have a committee meeting next week and see what input we can give back to the city to help them complete the RFP.”
Eshbach said the Foundation wants the RFPs back by March 13.
“Then, they will come back and ask everyone for more information by the end of March,” Eshbach said. “They will make a decision by the end of April.”
Alvarado said she plans to use some time to catch up with the battleship committee.
“Meeting with the committee will also help make sure we understand from the city’s perspective what the cost would be and where that would be coming from,” she said.
Council also appointed Councilman David Himsel of District 6 to act as an alternate on the committee.
“I think it’ll be a truly great thing for Baytown,” David Himsel said. “We just have to figure out a way to get it done. I will do all I can.”
Mayor Brandon Capetillo said many individuals on the committee had recognized areas that need to be addressed about the battleship, such as engineering issues and how to fund and maintain it once it arrives.
“This committee will serve in that capacity,” Capetillo said. “The Foundation has now released its RFP, so it is out on the street. This group will formally present its best package representing Baytown itself and what we can bring to the table in having Battleship Texas at Bayland or whatever the case may be.”
Capetillo wished the committee the best of luck.
“When I first the idea (of bringing the battleship to Baytown), I thought it was far-fetched and an endeavor that was impossible. But I feel differently about it now,” he said. “I feel Baytown can put in a strong package and bring the battleship to Baytown. It would still be in proximity to the San Jacinto Battleground and in the shadow of the Fred Hartman Bridge, so I think we have a lot going for us.”
Over at Lee College, the Regents also appointed some representatives to be on the committee. One is Regent Mark Himsel, while the other is Dr. Boyd Harris, a history professor at the college.
“It is a privilege to be asked along with Dr. Boyd Harris to represent Lee College in the effort to secure the Battleship Texas for Baytown,” Mark Himsel said. “Having the historic ship in a prominent location in view of the Hartman Bridge and adjacent to the convention and hotel center will enhance the opportunities to promote Baytown and highlight the many resources and amenities we have to offer our citizens and visitors.”
Mark Himsel said the college is ready to contribute.
“We are committed to assisting the committee in responding to the proposal and will make available resources to aid the committee in their preparation,” he said. “We believe this is not only good for Baytown but also good for Lee College.”
Eshbach has been holding a pledge drive for funds to help maintain the ship once it is docked in Baytown. On Friday, he said he had received more pledges, and it is up to $29,800.
The Bring the Battleship to Baytown Committee will hold an advisory membership meeting at 10 a.m. at 9334 Kai Drive, Beach City, Jan. 31. The meeting is open to the public. The committee will accumulate facts and advise the city in completing the RFP. For more details, call 281-744-7238.