Texas City Mayor,
Mayor Charles T. "Chuck" Doyle, envisioned the development
of Bay Street Park in May 1990. The Park is generally bounded by Bay
Street to the west, the Hurricane Protection Levee to the east, 25 Avenue
to the north and the Dike Road to the south. It is composed of about
50 acres of land and 50 acres of fresh water lagoon.
After purchase and acquisition of the property was completed, Texas Parks and Wildlife gave permission to proceed with construction of the Park. The City's public works crew, under the direction of Harlan Melancon, began preliminary site work in February of 1993. One year later, Phase I of the park was completed.
The Bay Street Park project was funded through a combination of state grants, volunteer contributions and services, city funds, and city in-kind labor and equipment.
Phase II of the Park includes the 22 acres of property, the four soccer fields, the pavilion, trails, boat ramp, parking lots, multipurpose courts, two observation piers, two bridges, and associated utilities.
The Park Amenities and Enhancements were elements added tot he park to improve it's appearance, functionality, and historical significance and were not funded by Parks and Wildlife grants. The majority of the enhancements were provided by civic and corporate contributions and volunteer work groups. The major historical enhancement element was the "Wings of Heritage" display.
Phase I of the Park was dedicated on July 2, 1994 at a ceremony attended by 600 citizens and guests.
As the basic park construction was nearing completion, planning for additional park amenities began. The City's plans for Bay Street Park included a display recognizing the historical importance of the site as the home of the First U.S. Aerosquadron from 1913 to 1915.
Mayor Doyle appointed a committee made up of General Harry Conrad, Fred Sandberg, and Gus Campbell, who were responsible for obtaining the F-100 and building the 1913 biplane.
After working closely with the City's Museum Committee members, the display of a stainless steel replica of one of the original aircraft, a 1913 Burgess and Curtis Biplane, was constructed. A F-100 Saber Jet was acquired through the U.S. Air Force in Arizona. The F-100 Saber Jet was shipped to the City in several large components. Upon arrival, it was assembled and painted by a City work crew.
The stainless steel replica of the 1913 Burgess and Curtis Biplane was designed by Fred Sandberg. Donations were received from local industries to provide stainless steel materials for the replica's components. Raymond Guidry of Tennille Metal Works, Inc., fabricated the plane. A central display wall on which several historical plaques and the flag pole is mounted was also constructed. Both planes were towed to the Park site in May 1994.
Other Park Amenities
The theme of the Bay Street Park was community involvement and many groups provided labor, materials, and money at the invitation of Mayor Doyle. Several volunteer civic groups participated in providing extra park amenities:
- U.S. Forest Service - Trees were provided with the assistance of a $20,000 grant to the Texas City Recreation and Tourism Department by the U.S. Forestry Service Small Business Program. Bradshaw's Nurseries of League City donated and installed nearly 130 trees, consisting mostly of bald cypress, live oak, pecan, drake elms and willows throughout the park.
- Sterling Volunteers - Sterling Chemical Company Incorporated and its employee volunteers provided three park amenities: the North Timber Bridge, landscaping, and lighting at the Wings of Heritage display. Two of the timber bridges were installed as part of the Texas Parks and Wildlife basic park project, however, two additional bridges were deemed necessary to better facilitate the hiking and jogging trail. The volunteers constructed one of the additional bridges (a 90-ft. long, 8-ft wide timber bridge) on the north end of the park. In addition, they furnished and planted landscaping and grass sodding for the Wings of Heritage display.
- Amoco Volunteers/Torch Classic - Amoco volunteers from all over the country came to Texas City to participate in their annual "Torch Classic" event and do volunteer work throughout the community. One of Amoco's volunteer projects, in conjunction with their annual "torch Classic" event, was to provide and install 10 park benches, 15 picnic tables, and a large piece of playground equipment in the Park.
- Carbide Volunteers - One of the extra timber bridges were provided and constructed by the Carbide Volunteers. This 75-ft. long bridge leads to the observation island close to the pavilion.
- Challenger 7 Memorial - The Southwestern Bell employee volunteer organization "Telephone Pioneers" furnished and installed a memorial to the Challenger 7 astronauts who died in the tragic space shuttle explosion on January 28, 1986. The memorial consists of a granite monument centered in a circle of seven live oak trees.
Construction of Phase
III of Bay Street Park, called Bay Family Park, located on 15 acres
north of Dike Road will begin in 1998. The property was donated by Texas
City National Bank and a contribution by Sterling Chemicals will finance
a major portion of the Park. Other contributions by Phibro Refining
Company, Texas City Jaycees, Texas City Lions club, and the Larry Edrozo
Family assisted with the park facilities. A matching grant application
to the Texas Parks & Wildlife has been submitted.
Bay Family Park is designed as playground picnic park with major emphasis on our special children and families. The playground equipment will be many of the park amenities. The center of the park will have a gazebo funded by Texas City Jaycees. Parks amenities will include two picnic pavilions, tables, barbecue pits, volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, two softball fields, a children's amphitheater, and of course the largest assembly of handicap-accessible playground equipment in the region. Additionally, a wetland habitat viewing area will be provided.
Halfmoon Shoal Lighthouse
In 1992, Mayor Doyle envisioned a lighthouse replica, located on Skyline Drive, to display facts and photos of the Texas City bayshore facilities and wildlife. The pavilion, dedicated on April 4, 1998, is a scale model of Halfmoon Shoal Lighthouse which was located about 2-1/2 miles off the Texas City shore line from about 1855 to 1900. Funding for the lighthouse was partially provided by Rotary Club of Texas City, Texas City Rotary Foundation, and Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.
Thomas S. Mackey Nature Center
Dedicated in February 1998 to Eagle Boy Scouts and Golden Girl Scouts.
The Thomas S. Mackey
Nature Center is a 35-acre wildlife habitat in the north section of
the Park. The Center consists of nature trails and observations points
where visitors can view the abundance of waterfowl, songbirds, wildlife
and vegetation native to the Texas City coastline. Boy Scouts and Girl
Scouts played a major role in the development of the Center, building
totem poles, foot bridges and other facilities.
The Nature Center is dedicated to Eagle Scouts of the Galveston County mainland in hor of Dr. Thomas S. Mackey, an Eagle Scout and long-time Boy Scout leader in Texas City. Dr. Mackey assisted the City with the purchase of this land by the City of Texas City for the entire Bay Street Park complex. Over 400 names honoring scouts are listed on displays at each entrance to the Center.
Bay Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America
Totem Pole Facts
Northwest Coast Indians had a wonderful way of recording
their stories -- they carved them on poles. These poles were carved
with strange and beautiful figures representing people, animals,
birds, and fish, as well as imaginary creatures from Indian legend.
Totem poles reveal much about Indian superstition, life, and legend.
They are the unwritten language of the old Indian world.
The Boy Scouts of America was
founded in 1910. Under the leadership of Dr. James E. Est, the Boy Scouts
of America was formally chartered by the United States Congress in 1916.
Made up of Brazoria and Galveston Counties, the Bay Area Council of the Boy Scouts was chartered by the Rotary Club of Galveston in 1919. Troops in the Texas City-LaMarque area were initiated in 1926.
Today, the Bay Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America offers opportunities for young men to participate in Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting and for young men and women to be a part of Exploring.
In February 1997,
Texas City Mayor Doyle met with the Executive Director of the Bay Area
Council to outline the plan for Texas City's Nature Park honoring area
Boy Scout Eagle and Girl Scout Gold Award recipients. Mainland scout
leaders quickly approved the project and organized the local troops.
Eight 50-ft. totem poles were donated by Thomasson Lumber Company of Philadelphia, Mississippi and Mrs. and Mr. Kermit Stephens of Cahalsa Pressure Treated Company, Monterail, Alabama. The shipping costs were donated by Houston Lighting and Power Company.
The carving and painting of the poles were accomplished by over 120 boy and girl scouts, their leaders, and interested citizens. The work was supervised by Scouter Bob Huffman of Virginia and by Scout Leader Jim Hill of Tyler, Texas, who donated their time and wood-carving talents. The Knights of Columbus in LaMarque provided the work space of the project. Texas-New Mexico Power Company of Texas City performed the installation.
The eight totem poles, each representing a troop from the Texas City and LaMarque area, are spaced along the nature trails throughout the park. A ninth pole was carved for Camp Karankawa.
Two Boy Scouts, Brett Pirtle and Josh Henderson, of Troop 232 supervised the construction of a timer bridge as an Eagle Scout project. Other scout projects such as benches and tree identification are scheduled for 1998.
"Take only photographs - leave only footprints"