Baytown residents huddled over maps at a recent public meeting, giving their ideas for what the city says will be a blueprint for future growth.
The proposed document is called the Baytown Mobility Plan.
Officials say they want to address the transportation needs of the area’s many industries, for instance, creating better access from the Houston Ship Channel to the Grand Parkway. There’s also quality-of-life issues, like connecting hike-and-bike trails and making it easier to walk to transit stops.
Jim Harvey is one of the consultants working on the project.
“How do we create a community that can help its population stay here and make this a lifelong place to live, grow up, work, and retire, and have a community that’s truly sustainable?”
Baytown was created when three separate towns merged in the 1940’s in East Harris County. But the problem is, when those three towns came together, their street grids didn’t match up. And it’s something the city of over 70,000 people still deals with today.
“East-west mobility is lacking, which is one of the goals of the meetings.”
Baytown land surveyor James McClellan says the city has a hodgepodge of development that can make getting around difficult. And it’s not just for people in cars. Many areas of the city don’t have sidewalks. That’s a problem for kids, now that the Goose Creek school district is limiting its bus service because of budget cuts. McClellan says if you want to know where to build sidewalks just look for the well-worn foot paths.
“You have areas where there’s less population in that general area. There’s not a great need for sidewalks. You can go a half-mile down the road, adjacent to maybe an apartment complex or two, and there always seems to be a need for sidewalks in those areas. And it’s very evident on the side of the roadways.”
Also participating in the meetings is Baytown resident Rusty Senac. He says there needs to be an easier way to get between stores and businesses.
“You actually have to leave a business, go out on the roadway, to go to the business next door. A lot of times there’s not connectivity between large retail centers. And it seems like that would be a very simple fix.”
The city will hold several more public meetings before the issue goes to the Baytown City Council. A vote on the plan is expected early next year.