This article was written by Steven K. Howell for the Spring 2010 editon of "The Dreadnought" the newsletter of the Battleship Texas Foundation and appears with his permission.
There are three significant projects in process at the San Jacinto State Historic Site. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is working on the Visitor Information Center; the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Battleship Texas Foundation are working jointly on the Dry Berth Project; and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Battleship Texas Foundation are also working jointly on the Wharf and Amenities Project. Details on each of these projects are presented below.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is working on the construction of a permanent Visitor Information Center at the San Jacinto State Historic Site. Five sites are under consideration, including two sites close to the location of the Texas. Public hearings have been heard to solicit input from interested parties regarding this Center. As planned the Visitor Information Center will provide a focal point for helping visitors to the Park to understand the Battle of San Jacinto, the Battleground, the San Jacinto Museum of History as well as the Battleship Texas. The Battleship Texas Foundation looks forward to working with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as the Visitor Information Center Project moves forward. Funding for the Center comes from a Federal grant.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department continues to negotiate a contract with the top bidder for the Dry Berth Project. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department received written proposals from interested consultants in late 2009 and received in-person proposals from the top five bidders during November and December. The successful bidder will take on the responsibility to design and engineer the dry berth and to meet environmental compliance requirements for the construction of a permanent dry berth for the Texas. Funding for the Dry Berth Project comes from $25 million in voter-approved Bonds, suplemented by $4 million raised by the Battleship Texas Foundation.
As the Visitor Information Center Project has continued to develop, the Battleship Texas Foundation has modified the components of its Wharf and Amenities Project to coordinate with and be compatible with the Visitor Information Center. The Battleship Texas Foundation has prepared and presented revised designs to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and, once they are reviewed and accepted, the designs will be presented to the Battleship Texas Foundation Members and financial supporters. At this point in the design process, the Wharf and Amenities will be located on the north side of the existing slip. When constructed, this will permit two existing parking lots (to the south and to the east of the ship) to be removed; and this will allow additional interpretation of of the Battleground. The Amenities building is designed to include a staging area for the Overnight Education Program, a dedicated shop and restoration space for the First Texas Volunteers, a covered open-air space for the interpretation of large exhibits and new restrooms.
Many thanks to the members of the Texas Legislature, as well as to a host of other elected officials, who continue to be advocates for the preservation, restoration and presentation of the world's last dreadnought-type battleship through their continued support of the Dry Berth Project.
Click here for more information on the Battleship Texas Foundation at their web site.