A group of citizens from Baytown are still hoping to win the competition to locate the Battleship Texas in a new port, at Bayland Marina. The spokesman for the group, Russell Hamman, gave a talk to the Highlands Rotary Club on Tuesday, reviewing the history of the ship and its current need of repairs.
The State of Texas has turned the ownership and control of the ship to the Battleship Texas Foundation, a private organization headed by Bruce Bramlett. They have issued an RFP, or Request For Proposals, for interested locales or groups that would be able to maintain and exhibit the ship in the proper manner to benefit the public and the foundation.
The RFP is due to be returned by March 13, and at that time proposals will be evaluated and a decision made as to a home port for the ship. At the current time, it is thought that Baytown, Kemah, and Corpus Christi are the interested parties. At one time Galveston was interested, but recent statements indicate they are involved in other projects and do not want to compete for the Battleship, Hamman said.
The State of Texas has allocated $35 million dollars to move the ship to a repair facility, probably along the Gulf Coast east of New Orleans, and to also help establish a new setting for display and visits from the public.
On its return, dredging a channel and site preparation might cost as much as much as $30 million. The city of Baytown is considering whether they want to contribute money to this endeavor, he said.
In addition, the Baytown group is raising funds and campaigning to have the ship berthed permanently in Bayland Marina in Baytown. The group is headed by businessman Jay Eshbach, and includes Hamman and several Baytown mayors. They are asking the public to pledge a sum of 27¢ a day for five years, to show their support for the project. This would amount to $492.75 in five years, but is only a pledge and no money is being collected. So far, Hamman said, about $30,000 has been raised.
Hamman, a well-known local historian, has two Facebook sites to aid in the effort. They are “Bring the Battleship to Baytown” and “Hamman’s History of Baytown… with a twist.” Together they have about 20,000 followers.
Hamman said that a show of public support would help the Foundation decide in Baytown’s favor. He also pointed out that the planned location has a large number of people passing by daily on the Fred Harman bridge, 80,000 per day with 120,000 projected when the Grand Parkway is completed. He estimates that the ship will require 100,000 paying visitors every year to be financially sound.
Hamman asks that if you favor the project, write a letter of support and email it to email@example.com. You can also volunteer to help maintain the ship and run the museum and gift shop that will be part of the development.