Baytown, Texas - Save Our Bayou Rally 10-20-2007 Back to OurBaytown
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Residents rally to save bayou
Published October 21, 2007  By Kari Griffin - Baytown Sun

Theron Gray, 11, didn’t know what to think when protesters began filing into Roseland Park with picket signs and petitions Saturday. But he was all for anything that might save his fishing hole.

With conviction, the young Deer Park resident said a barge terminal on Cedar Bayou, (directly across from the grass where he patiently waited to get a fish on the line), “is a terrible idea.”

The park was packed on land and water Saturday afternoon with folks rocking to Mean Gene Kelton and the Die Hards, and signing a petition to block a proposed barge terminal across the bayou.

Since the discovery of developer Richardson Waterail’s plan to lease an 80-acre tract of land across from the Roseland boat ramp for a barge terminal, citizens have been preparing to act, said resident Keith Coburn. Saturday’s rally is just the beginning.

“We’re not going to stop,” said resident Sonia Barrow.

Holding a sign reading, “Mr. Barge, please don’t run over me,”

Barrow’s grandson Jace, 6, joined boat riders protesting on water. Barrow, who lives right on the bayou, just a few houses over from her son and grandchildren, said the park is for the kids, not industry.

“It’s a safety concern. It really is,” Barrow said. “Our kids are playing here.”

The Baytonian hosted weekly meetings at her home to brainstorm ways to get the public informed about what’s happening in their bayou. Signs and flyers of “we need parks, not barge terminals,” and “no barge terminal,” have been distributed to local business and posted on any available surface, but some residents are still unaware of their city’s latest fight.

“There’s still so many people who don’t know this is going on,” Barrow said.

Lead by District 6 Councilman Sammy Mahan, the Save Our Bayou (SOB)-Concerned Citizens Coalition and residents of the community made their opinions known at Saturday’s rally, and managed to create more awareness about what’s coming on the Bayou. Baytown Mayor Stephen Don Carlos, Shoreacres Mayor Jayo Washington, representatives from District 2 Congressman Ted Poe’s office, assistant city manager Kelvin Knauf, Parks and Recreation Director Scott Johnson and Lee College Regent Don Coffey were just a few officials who lent their support to the cause by showing up to the rally.

With the permits, (applied for by Chambers County resident Johnnie Jennings), already signed, the city might not have a leg to stand on.

But Mayor Don Carlos said in the meantime, signed petitions and a community devoted to saving Cedar Bayou couldn’t hurt.

“We are stronger as a group than we are individually,” DonCarlos said to the crowd. “I want you to know on behalf of the city, we are doing everything we can from our end to stop this project if possible.”

City Council approved a $50,000 contract with attorney Bob Renbarger, of Fritz, Byrne, Head & Harrison, LLP to look into the city’s legal options. And DonCarlos said the city hopes to hear something soon, possibly by the end of the month.

The SOB-Concerned Citizens Coalition plans to bring the signed petitions to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, responsible for approving the permit, requesting that public hearings concerning barge operations on Cedar Bayou be re-opened immediately and any further development of barge facilities or barge terminals on Cedar Bayou be suspended.

Barrow said it’s the way things were done that has residents taking such drastic measures. The folks who live on the water and visit Roseland Park just want to have their say.

And if they can’t do that at a public hearing, they’ll find another way.

“Government responds to citizens,” DonCarlos said. “I certainly think the citizens of this area are entitled to be heard on a project that will effect their daily life.”

The rally may be over, but the SOB-Concerned Citizens Coalition is not done yet. For more information on future public meetings and how to sign the Save Our Bayou petition, contact Mahan at 281-932-4969, Coburn at 281-380-1455 or Cindy L. Coker at 713-447-3896.