Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Ad Hoc Infrastructure Committee
Jan. 26, 2005Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 26th day of January, 2005, there came to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, in the Commission Hearing Room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex, to wit:
THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION:
- John D. Parker, Lufkin, Texas, Committee Chairman
- Ned S. Holmes, Houston, Texas
- Joseph B.C. Fitzsimons, San Antonio, Texas
- J. Robert Brown, El Paso, Texas
- Alvin L. Henry, Houston, Texas
- Peter M. Holt, San Antonio, Texas (Absent)
- Philip Montgomery, Dallas, Texas (Absent)
- Donato D. Ramos, Laredo, Texas
- Mark E. Watson, Jr., San Antonio, Texas
THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT:
- Robert L. Cook, Executive Director, and other personnel of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
COMMISSIONER PARKER: First order of business is the approval of the Committee minutes, which have already been distributed. Is there a motion for approval?
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: So moved.
COMMISSIONER BROWN: Second.
COMMISSIONER PARKER: Motion by Commissioner Holmes, Second by Commissioner Brown. All in favor, say aye.
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER PARKER: Opposed?
COMMISSIONER PARKER: Hearing none, the motion carries. It is time for the Chairman's Charges. Mr. Cook.
MR. COOK: Thank you, sir. Three notes here. TPWD received a total of $64 million including interest earnings and revenue bonds over the four year period beginning in 1998 through 2001. These revenue bonds were provided to reduce our critical statewide repair backlog. This is kind of the first set of it was before Prop 8, we got those critical repair funds for those purposes.
As of January 2005, this bond issue will be fully expended. Proceeds from that bond program allowed the Department to accomplish 424 repair projects across the state. On another item, under Government Canyon, development of a new state park is well into construction phase and we anticipate completion this spring, the spring of 2005. The grand opening, and I hope you have it on your calendar, is scheduled for June 2, 2005, at which time we will have completed the trails, exhibits and most of the remote site features. The total project budget there is about $5.7 million.
At the World Birding Center, the new World Birding Center headquarters at Mission was completed and the grand opening held on October 23, 2004. The new facility is now open to the public and attracting approximately 3,850 visitors per month. That was as of November. I noticed last week, Walt brought in the numbers, where there was 4,000 visitors last week. So that flow of winter Texans has arrived. And we are starting to see the results of that going very well.
Construction at Llano Grande in Weslaco is underway. Completion of the buildings at the new World Birding Center site there is expected to be completed in May of 2005, with trails and birdwalks completed in the fall of '05. Grand opening scheduled for this summer. Third birding center site in Brownsville is in design.
TxDOT is currently completing new access roads to the park and new interior park roads and parking. Project construction is scheduled to begin in March of 2005 and to be complete in June of 2006. So that is kind of where we are on those three big projects that we have been working on a long time. And again, we appreciate these guys and all their folks, and their help. Thank you, sir.
COMMISSIONER PARKER: Thank you. Committee item number two, graving dock and repair of the Battleship Texas. Mr. Steve Whiston, if you would please make that presentation.
MR. WHISTON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. For the record, my name is Steve Whiston. I am the director of the Infrastructure Division. With me this afternoon is Jim Burton. Jim is our Division's project manager for the battleship project. Also seated behind me this afternoon is Barry Ward, the manager of Battleship Texas. Barry.
I also would like to take a moment before we jump into our presentation this afternoon to recognize and point out a couple of other gentlemen that are with us this morning. Captain Charles Alcorn and Travis LaGrone from the Battleship Texas Foundation. These guys have been here all day long. We appreciate their joining us this afternoon for our presentation.
As you all know, the Battleship Foundation is a strong ally and a partner in support of the management and the interpretation of the Battleship Texas. And we couldn't do it without them. Thank you, gentlemen for being with us.
Commissioners, last spring, we briefed you on one of our Prop 8 funded projects, which is the tow to dry dock and repair of the Battleship Texas. With your approval, we contracted with Orion Engineering of Houston, Texas to help us identify repair options and to evaluate the feasibility of constructing an on-site graving dock for the Battleship Texas that would allow us to do permanently to berth the ship at San Jacinto and to make repairs for the life of that ship, without towing it to another location.
That study is now complete, and in a moment, I am going to ask Jim to brief you with the findings of that engineering report. Before doing so, though, I would like to share a little bit of history, just to catch you up on the battleship. The Battleship Texas was commissioned in 1914. It was relocated or moved to its berth at San Jacinto in 1948. The ship has been managed by Parks and Wildlife Department since 1983.
The last significant repairs to the Battleship Texas occurred in 1989 at a cost of about $15 million. The ship was towed to Galveston, Texas where it underwent about a 14 month long project to repair its hull and blister tanks. We did some additional deck repairs, and did as much as we could with the available money that was provided to us at that time.
In 2001, we estimated the additional cost or the subsequent costs for making repairs to the ship at about $14.3 million, an additional $14.3 million that would be needed to make the next cycle of repairs, which engineering reports continue to advise us is needed to occur every ten to twelve to 14 years, depending on its condition. Proposition 8, in 2001 provided us with the authority to spend $12.5 million towards that project, obviously leaving us with a shortfall of about $1.8 million to do what we had envisioned at that time to accomplish.
To date, out of Proposition 8, we have only received, or have only been appropriated $75,000 for the ship. So part of our initiative, one of our funding priorities for this next legislative session in '06, '07 would be to further the funding for that project. A couple of just real quick slides. I thought it would be really interesting and fun for you guys to see.
This is a historic photo, circa about 1919 of the Battleship Texas in action. BB35 was considered one of the most powerful things afloat at that time. Our sources indicate that the ship fired a 14 inch projectile that weighed approximately the same as a Volkswagen Beetle, with an accuracy — at a range of about 15 miles with pretty good accuracy. It was a great ship for its time. Another photo from about that same period is the ship with the Sopwith Camel on its deck.
This ship, this particular aircraft was used as a spotting aircraft. I've got another really interesting picture about its history. With that, I would like to turn the presentation over to Jim, and allow him to share with you the findings of our engineering report. Jim?
MR. BURTON: Thank you. For the record, I am Jim Burton. I am a project manager in Infrastructure. And when we started looking at this, we really determined that there were about 4 options that we needed to look at in terms of ship repair. Option one was to permanently fill around the ship. Number two was do a partial dry dock on site. And I am going to go through slides and explain these as we go.
Option three was the onsite graving dock, which we talked about at our last meeting as an option we felt like we needed to pursue. And from that option, if we were to do an onsite graving dock, you could either permanently dry berth the ship, in other words, keep it out of the water. Or you could potentially do a wet dry berth, where you essentially drain the water out and it is just sunk down into its cradle and stayed in the graving dock while you do the repairs and then the water came back.
The last option, number four was to tow it to a conventional dry dock, if that was available to us. So we wanted to look at all of those and see what their advantages and disadvantages might be. This one is an example of filling in around a ship. Essentially, what happens is that it is less expensive to do it this way. It is a one time deal.
But there are some disadvantages with this. One is, it is a very poor interpretive experience. It is a fish out of water. You know, when you walk up on concrete to a ship that is sitting there, you don't get the same feel as when that ship was actually floating in its own elements. The ship continues to corrode below the ground. The repairs are very expensive to get to, because now you have to remove a lot of concrete and things like that, and dirt, to get to the repairs. And ultimately the ship would probably be lost because of that. So we considered that not a good option.
This one is what we are calling a partial dry dock. And what you see here is an example of the Alabama. It is a larger ship than the Texas. And as you can see, what you have is a coffer dam with the sheet piles driven around the outside of that. And that is water out here. And when they do that, they can then dig the mud away from the sides of it. And then they can fix things where most of the waterline damage is, which is right at the waterline.
And the blister tanks of the Texas get the same sort of abuse. That is where the wave action is, and where you get more oxygen in the water. So it takes most of the abuse. The problem with that is that you can't repair the bottom of the ship. It is sitting in the mud. You are not going to get all of that out. So eventually, the bottom is going to wear out.
So even though it is a less expensive, it eliminates any risk of towing loss, of losing the ship while you are towing it someplace, ultimately, you probably will not be able to salvage the ship, because you can't get to the bottom to do any of the repairs there. So that brings us to number three here.
And that option is to build an on-site graving dock, and that is the one that we talked about last time. We have now completed that study. There are some advantages to building a graving dock. For instance, the ship would not have to leave the berth, and you wouldn't lose the visitation revenue loss. In the case of the Texas, that is about $600,000 a year if I am correct. Barry, is that correct?
MR. WARD: Yes.
MR. BURTON: About 600,000 a year revenue loss. Of course, when it is gone from the berth, like last time, it was 14 months. Naturally, that is 14 months that the public doesn't have access to the ship and certainly some disappointment there, with the visiting public. Another advantage of having an onsite doc is that the ship's crew can remain intact. I don't know if you are aware, but the battleship is essentially about the size of this building right here. And what is your staff, Barry?
MR. WARD: Twelve.
MR. BURTON: Twelve people operate, maintain, do all the maintenance, do all the tours, you know, all of this kind of stuff on the ship with some volunteers. So it is a major ordeal to keep that. And when you have got a good crew and staff and they are electricians, they are welders; there are all that kind of stuff, it has some value to keep that staff together.
The other thing is, is that there are thousands of artifacts on board the ship. When you take it to dry dock, it means that all of those things really need to come off of the ship, and be catalogued and stored for security purposes. And that is everything from brass nameplates over a door to a broken wrench that somebody left in 1914. So there is a lot of stuff on there.
So another reason that makes it important, or something that would be valuable to us to have a permanent graving dock is that you don't have the risk and the expense of towing the ship every twelve to 15 years, whatever your cycle is. And that is a significant expense. For instance, we did a report by Shiner Mosely in 2001 and they were estimating how much would it cost to tow the ship to dry dock. They took the worst possible case scenario, which is, if it had to tow all the way to Tampa Florida to reach a dry dock, and that is about a $1.3 million estimated fee for towing that ship. So it is a considerable amount of money. And then of course, there is some risk of losing the vessel during a tow.
The other benefit of having an on-site graving dock is that it allows for periodic maintenance. You can do a lot of the painting and upkeep and things yourself, as opposed to having to take it to a dry dock. It removes the uncertainty of dry dock availability, because that is a very volatile market, and sometimes they are configured for offshore drilling rigs.
Sometimes there are no docks in the immediate area that are available to take a vessel the size of the Texas. And that is part of the problem. The length is not such a problem, but the weight is. It is a very heavy ship. So, if you kept it there at a cradle, if it were floating or parabola, it can't sink. You know, if it sprung a leak, it would just drift down into the cradle, and that would be it. So there are a lot of advantages to do it.
There is one major disadvantage and that is a very high cost to doing it. Here is a couple of examples. This is the Cutty Sark that they permanently dry berth. You can see that it is a much smaller vessel. You can see by the people walking around it. It is a wooden vessel. Here is another example. This one is probably the closest in size to the Texas. And again, it is probably half — all the dimensional, half as long, half as wide, half as deep. It is one sixteenth of the weight of the Texas, though.
So, you know, there are some good advantages to having something dry berthed. You know, it is unnecessary to keep the hull watertight for instance. Ongoing maintenance is easier of the vessel. Expensive pumps and all those sorts of things are reduced. It is less corrosive, and it eliminates the need for a commercial dock. It has the same disadvantage of the graving dock, per se, which is a high initial cost. It is not a good an interpretive experience.
There is a potential for sagging of the vessel. They call it hogging, if it is not structurally supported. You know, we do feel like that could be worked out, engineering wise, if that were our option. Here is an example of a wet dry. This one usually floats. This is the Discovery. And they have drained the water out from around it, and they are essentially doing hull repairs inside of this. They have probably put this sheeting up so that they could do sandblasting and not have sand go every place, most likely here.
Some disadvantages is that the hull has got to be watertight, if you are going to do a wet dry berth. And you probably have a higher graving dock maintenance cost.
We went out and hired a company called Orion Construction to give us our feasibility study. They put together Lloyd Engineering to do design and layout and then Frieden Goldman as a naval architect to look over the old docking plans and see that things would be structurally sound to do this. And they came back with some options for us, on what this graving dock would be.
And that one is kind of hard to see. This might be easier for you right here. What they essentially said, all these little blue lines under here are essentially the docking keels. That is where you would set the ship down. This out here, this squiggly line, what that is is a sheet piling that goes all the way around the ship, and it is in the center of the it is where the ship exists now, but it is sheet piling that goes around the ship.
The top of it has a walkway that goes around it. It is about 27 feet from here to here at it's closet point, which would be about right there. So the visitor could walk all the way around the ship. The ship would be protected. It would have its own cradle. It would never have to leave the dock and all those sorts of things. It is engineeringly possible and feasible to do this. It takes over 1000 pilings that are 75 feet deep. It takes a concrete slab that is six foot thick.
So there is a lot of things to work out on an engineering basis, but it is possible that you could do this. I'll give you an example. This is what it looks like when the ship is in dry dock. And this is from its last dry dock. And those concrete piles would essentially be what we would do. You would have a concrete floor. You would have these concrete blocks that the ship sits on, on those docking keels.
Here is the downside. That is the ship it the graving dock which is called the Big T, Todd Shipyards in Galveston. It is now in Alabama. But it costs $27.3 million is what we think our total project costs would be to build the onsite graving facility at San Jacinto. That brings us to option four, which is tow it to a commercial dry dock, which is historically been the way that most ships are handled, and it has historically been the way this ship has been handled, although it has only been one time. This is it, when they were trying to remove it from its berth. It had been there since well, it was put there in '48 and it was moved in 1988. So, 40 years; 36 years of that was in the mud.
So, it was quite an effort to get it out. So it took eight hours and five tugs just to get it out of the slip. We are not anticipating that we would have that much difficulty with it this time, because it is not nearly as silted up as it was at that time. The advantages of commercial dry docking, towing to commercial dry dock is that it is less of an initial cost. You don't have a berth to maintain.
The disadvantages are it is subject to catastrophic loss during towing. It is subject to dry dock availability, if there is one available or not at the time. And as you know, with planning for the expenditures, with the government being what it is, it is sometimes hard to contract with a dry dock facility far enough in advance to get that to happen. It can be done. It obviously can be done. But it is a difficulty.
When you tow it off of course, it is not available for public use, loss of visitation, disruptive to the crew and once of the things that I have really disliked about it, is that you are essentially held hostage in dry dock. You turn the keys of your ship over to some other entity, and you are essentially paying. You know, they come back and say, hey, your limberholes are too small and something. And while you are trying to figure out what that is exactly, they are saying, by the way, it is $6,000 a day for it to sit here, so make up your mind quick. That kind of thing.
So you know there are some issues there that would be nice if you had your own site and facility. And of course, if you tow it off, as we have talked about, you have got to get rid of the artifacts and bring those off of the ship for protection. Here is what it was like in '99 when it went to dry dock.
Essentially, this is a riveted vessel. There are some docks that have the capability of still putting back riveted plates, but at the last dry dock, they were mainly welded in place. They are half inch or 5/8 inch plate. They made a decision that if they were more than 50 percent eaten through, and they did ultrasonic testing over the hull, that they would replace them. So, 40 percent of the plates were replaced in 1989.
But there was a whole lot of it that was right on the cusp. You know, the 50 percent, and they realized they were going to run out of money, so they just left it. So we are estimating something about 280,000 pounds of steel would need to be replaced on the hull, and about 150,000 in the blister tanks. The blister tanks are by the way, tanks that were added on to the outside of the ship. It was right before World War II, is that correct, Barry?
MR. WARD: In '27.
MR. BURTON: In 1927, thank you. They were placed there primarily as a defense against torpedoes. The hull itself is armored and they wanted something that would detonate a torpedo before it actually hit the hull. So Barry of course, has maintenance issues with the blister tanks and that caused the listing at the last time that it sprung a leak, and they came back and had about a 4 degree list. It is not anticipated that if the tanks fully flooded that it would sink the vessel.
But they get most of the wear, because they get all the wave action and all those sorts of things. Steel itself has risen as you all probably know from about 33 cents a pound in 2001 to about 74 cents a pound now. So just that cost alone is like $168,000 increase just for steel itself. For the same commodity.
Okay. We have done some projections. You know the first, first when they have a $12.2 million budget, those are usually generated before you have really done all your engineering and have generated and in this case, I talked to Bill Dolman who took the ship to dry dock, and he was the project manager. He said that number was generated from taking costs that they had spent at the last dry dock and what he thought might happen. This was before any of the reports that came in and all those sorts of things. And Steve alluded to the fact that the Shiner Mosely report in 2001 had a higher price tag than that. We went ahead and projected it out to as if it was going to go in 2007, and we came up with about a $16.1 million price tag, if you were going to do all the things that were in there. Now, there is some fluff in there, in terms of the towing costs of $1.3 million. We may very well find a much closer place. $1 million in deck repair that you might be able to not replace all of it, if you have to. In other words, you have to change your scope for the available funding. But if we fixed it, we think it is $16.1 million.
Okay. We have done some things already to the ship that were recommended. We have got a series of nine semi-permanent pumping tanks in there, so that we can pump it out in the event of tow. Some of the things that were recommended by the Shiner Mosely report are already in place, for a tow. Let's see where we are here. Here is our current preferred options, if we proceed with the planned tow to dry dock and repair and we request the legislative appropriation to $16.1 million.
We construct a permanent onsite graving dock and secure an additional $27.3 million. Obviously those are preferred. You know, a graving dock would be preferred. Whatever the likelihood of that is, I don't really know at this point. There is some talk of private funding, public funding, combinations of those, grants, who really knows on that.
MR. WHISTON: So basically, gentlemen, our conclusion here is that for the long-term preservation of this ship, we feel like ultimately that the construction of an onsite graving dock is a good course of action to take. As a result of this study that we have been engaged in these last several months, we have been able to confirm the feasibility of both these options.
I realize we expressed some concern in the spring about the ship's ability to sustain a tow. It is our opinion now that ship is in better condition than it was in 1989 and we feel like that particularly if a port became available or a site became available close by, in Port Arthur or even as far away as perhaps even Mobile, Louisiana that the ship could successfully be towed to that location for repairs. In our view, that is good news, because that made then available to us or provided other opportunities.
In light of the budget situation we are facing at the Legislature, our proposal right now is to push forward with the funding being requested in Prop 8. We don't know, obviously at this point in time whether or not or to what extent we are going to be successful in getting that additional $12.5 million or the additional $16.1 million, or however many dollars that are going to be made available to us for the ship repair. But once that is determined, once the Legislature makes a decision on the funding availability, we will be in a better position to make an appropriate decision about which direction to take, based on the availability of those dollars.
In my later capital program update, I am going to highlight for you some of the changes, some of the amendments that we are proposing to make in our legislative appropriation requests to request these additional funds. Otherwise, that concludes our presentation on the battleship and we will be happy to answer any questions you might have.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: That second bullet point says, secure an additional $7.3 million — is that additional to the $12.5 million?
MR. BURTON: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: And so it is not really $27 million, it is really B
COMMISSIONER PARKER: $43.4 million.
MR. WHISTON: $27.3 million will provide us the fund necessary to build a graving dock. To build a site.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: But what are we adding the $27.3 million to?
COMMISSIONER PARKER: To the $16.1 million.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: To the $16.1 million.
MR. WHISTON: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: So it is really $43.4 million.
COMMISSIONER PARKER: That's crazy.
MR. COOK: I think it is real important. And we believe, and that is why I think, Jim and the gentlemen who have been working on this, just in the priority of things going on, we believe that the dry dock and repair has to be done anyway at $16.1 million. A longer term, more permanent fix would be to also do the $27.3 million for the graving dock. But that is $44 million anyway you look at it.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: I don't understand why you would have to do the full $16 million, because you are in a dry dock, effectively in that second option. So why do you have to — isn't there some savings as a result of that?
MR. WHISTON: There certainly could be. And we wouldn't be obligated to fill, to spend the full or expend the full $16 million. I guess the ideal scenario for us, if money were not an issue for us, because the ship has to be relocated somewhere while we build the graving dock.
So ideally, our initial thought was if we could take the ship to dry dock, get whatever repairs that we determine that are necessary at dry dock and while it is there, while is relocated, have funds available to us to construct the graving dock. We bring the ship back in, have a permanent berth for it to sit, and we would no longer have an issue with tow in the future.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: And the last time we talked about this, there was some notion that we were going to need to do this every ten or twelve years. In talking to Captain Alcorn and Travis LaGrone, they had a sense that it might last 25 or 30. It was docked for 30 years before we repaired it in '88-'89. What is happening to collapse that time frame to the ten to twelve years. I mean, how do we get it to point where it is a 25-year repair rather than a twelve?
MR. BURTON: Yes. I think the 40 year would certainly be pushing the outside of the envelope. It barely made it to Galveston and that is a very local tow at 40 years. In fact, if I remember correctly, they had to stop and pump for eight hours just to get it high enough, it had taken on so much water, to get it up onto the dock facility at the 40 years. So I think 40 years is probably the outside of an envelope.
I guess you would be looking at how much are you repairing it at any given time? You know, there is superstructure work, and then there is hull work. I mean, how often does a house need to be repainted? If it is an corrosive environment. If you are going to take it some place and paint the superstructure, it would be nice to do that every ten to fifteen years. It has obviously been there 15 years now, and it has made it. It is okay. So I think you can maybe look at more in the 15 to 20.
You know, I may agree with Captain Alcorn. It could be 15 to 20. You know, somewhere in there. But you know, it is just an ongoing maintenance item that you need to do and it is offset by you know, the availability of a tow and how close it is and how much it costs to tow it.
COMMISSIONER PARKER: Jim?
MR. BURTON: Yes.
COMMISSIONER PARKER: Point out to them though, once we make let's say, a fairy godmother gave us $43.4 million, and we do this, then the next time we have to make repairs, the only thing we have to do is pump some water out.
MR. BURTON: Right.
COMMISSIONER PARKER: And the thing settles down onto the permanent dry dock that we build when we build the graving dock, and you go in and make your repairs right there. It would be minimal expense. See, it would never leave the graving dock again.
MR. BURTON: It is hard to justify any of this on a business plan. You know, it is like all parks. It is hard to justify on a business plan.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I would agree with that one.
COMMISSIONER PARKER: We can't go to a banker with this one.
MR. BURTON: I can say that every time you take it to dry dock, just the fees for keeping it in the dry dock while it is there are around $800,000 to a $1 million for those fees. So that is essentially a savings, if you can look at it that way, that you would have every time you kept it on your site.
You would also have, of course, the towing fee that could be anywhere from a half million to $1.3 million. So that's a potential savings. It is an offsetting cost. It doesn't justify the expense.
COMMISSIONER WATSON: Well, you already know this probably, but I will share it with the Chairman. I know this is historically proper. But you know, I think we ought to tow that thing over to Mobile and get it out about eight miles offshore and have a little accident. And it becomes a fishing reef, and then we take that $43 million and make a fiberglass replica and we are done. I think we can get that for four.
You know, seriously, if we had a life-sized replica of this, everyone would have the same experience and you never would have to mess with it again. But $43 million, that is obscene.
COMMISSIONER BROWN: We want the reef in our Texas waters, though.
COMMISSIONER WATSON: Well, eight miles is in Texas waters, yes. And if somebody wanted to go see it, they could just go dive down there and look at it.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Well, all kidding aside, I think Commissioner Watson makes the point is that this is so huge that we can't attack this piecemeal. This is something that we have got to B
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: What is disconcerting to me is the $16 million every ten or twelve years. I mean, that just takes your breath away.
COMMISSIONER WATSON: This is just, I think this is totally out of our focus, our mission. And really, if you just want to have an experience for people to come and see a boat that was fought in the Second World War or something, well, go build one that is not going to fall apart, and they can go out there and look at it. I just thought $43 million — we ain't got it.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: They're all parks.
COMMISSIONER WATSON: I mean look what could you do with $43 million in state parks. And we get a hell of a lot more people going to state parks than go see this boat.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Well, it is a state treasure. And it is the state that needs to have a solution here, not the Parks and Wildlife Department.
MR. WHISTON: Excellent point.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Chairman, that's kind of what I was thinking. But do we know of partners or interest groups that may be willing to come in and say look, we will do so much? I mean, has there been some interest? Because it is a monster for us to take it on. And I agree. I would be wholly in favor of it, but it is a huge hole in our budget.
MR. WHISTON: Commissioner, that is a good point. And if you don't mind, let me defer that question to Barry. Barry has been on top of this, and Barry is bringing to us indications that there are some possibilities for some private funding. Barry?
COMMISSIONER PARKER: Push him a chair up.
MR. WARD: What is the question?
MR. WHISTON: Identify yourself, Barry.
MR. WARD: Barry Ward. I am the manager and curator of the Battleship Texas.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: My question was, and I had asked this generically, do you think there is partners or people that could take the bulk of this project on, and be of great assistance to us. Because from a financial standpoint, it would be a tremendous burden for us.
MR. WARD: It is my opinion, and I emphasize that it is my opinion that the only way that we are going to save this ship is to do that kind of partnering. If we don't cobble together some sort of consortium of governmental and private monies, private philanthropy, private industry and government, government meaning State of Texas and federal government, we are going to lose the ship.
You bring up the comment that this thing should be a diving reef. If we continue on the path of trying to come up with $15-16 million every decade, decade and a half, that is exactly what it is going to be. This will be a diving reef in two or three cycles. Every time we do this, that $16 million or so repairs less of the ship. Every cycle, the ship needs more repair. It is already 90 plus years old.
So it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that pretty soon, you are not going to be able to tow the ship. You know, that is not idle speculation. It is common sense, and everybody here understands that.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: It was commissioned in '10?
MR. WARD: 1914.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: '14.
MR. WARD: It started in construction in 1910.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Yes, okay. I remembered 1910 from something.
MR. WARD: The large portion of the construction on that ship is rivets. It is bolted together.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: You make a very good point, because I think it is an important piece of history. I mean, it is the last surviving dreadnought. I mean, it was at Omaha Beach, for Christ's sake.
MR. WARD: It was the flagship of Omaha Beach.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: At Omaha Beach, that wasn't the Texas navy. That was the United States Navy. And the fact that there is no federal support for something that is a piece of the United States Naval history is a question that I have, when you have federal money going to the D-Day museum in New Orleans. Have we explored the federal?
MR. WARD: In principal, I have. The picture you saw of the U.S.S. Alabama being repaired. That was $5 million or $6 million project, I think. It was a fairly low budget project, as far as these things go. A hunk of that, at least 50 percent of that, if I recall correctly was provided by federal monies. You know, they went to their United States Senator, and they got that attached to some bill and the monies came through.
In the '88 dry dock of the U.S.S. Texas, federal monies came through. It is going to have to happen, if you are going to save the ship. Whether you like it or not, this is a fish and game organization, but like it or not, we all inherited the ship. So there it is.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Well, I appreciate your candor, because that is exactly the point. Do you think there is a place it could go that it would generate more revenue than where it is?
MR. WARD: Well, I think undoubtedly, you could move to somewhere that is more of a tourist focus than La Porte, Texas. It is the middle of industry. You know, that opens up a Pandora's box. And certainly, that is beyond the scope of what I am capable of addressing. You know, whether that is a good thing or a bad thing.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: What, to have more people see it?
MR. WARD: No. To move it, and what that takes to move it.
COMMISSIONER WATSON: How many people do see it each year?
MR. WARD: About 150,000.
COMMISSIONER WATSON: That is nothing.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: If you could triple or quadruple that, in the right place, if you were in Galveston or some tourist area where people would go see it but you have got to move it first.
MR. COOK: If you quadrupled it, it still doesn't begin to pay for it.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: No, I am not saying it will ever pay for itself.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: If you quadruple it and triple the entrance fees and then you have a chance of paying for part of it. Or paying for the paint.
MR. WARD: One observation that I would like make that in the two options, in the graving dock that Jim has talked about. One is where you float it, and refloat it upon repairs. The other one is to keep it permanently out of the water. If you keep it permanently out of the water, there is no reason why you need to spend $16 million getting the hull watertight. That is redundant repairs. Why spend a cent on watertight integrity if you are going to raise it out of the water permanently?
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Well that was my question. Why would we spend that.
MR. WARD: That is good money after bad.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: But having said all that, the only reason that we are discussing this is because of the name of the ship. That is it. And it is not a park. It is not wildlife. And it needs to have another home for its funding.
COMMISSIONER WATSON: Who gave it to us?
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: I am sure it was the Legislature.
COMMISSIONER BROWN: There really has to be an ongoing endowment by the State. Some ongoing deal. I mean, that has got to be a state deal.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Yes. Decide it is important. Get the federal money. Get your federal money and decide it is important and it is a state obligation. And how do we get there. But we need to get started on the road.
MR. WARD: A follow up to the original question was, as this has become more and more public in recent months and weeks, there seems to be a growing interest in the private sector regionally in supporting this thing. But these are huge numbers and whether that is excessively optimistic or not, I don't have a feel for yet. But it is going to take that sort of consortium that I mentioned, collectively, to save the ship.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Well, I tend to agree with Commissioner Holmes. And that is, if we are going to do anything, let's pull it out and have it outside of the water, and preserve it the way it is. I mean, that is just the way it is. And I think we could save a ton of money, but preserve the ship and not worry about the maintenance. Because I think we are trying to unfortunately or at a great expense preserve something that just is old and cannot function like it did.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: I would like for you to challenge the guys that developed this $27 million extra on top of the $16 million. Because it makes sense. Barry's comment makes sense to me, intuitively, that if you are raising it out of the water, why do you need to spend the $16 million? I just can't.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Why would you ever put it back in?
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Yes. Why would you ever put it back in?
MR. COOK: That needs to be discussed. Because there is reasons it was approached that way.
MR. BURTON: Yes. I have some insight I could share on that. There are some overlapping costs. For instance, of the $16 something million, there is probably about $3 million or $4 million that are berth repairs that need to be done, that are not repairs to the ship. If you were to build a graving dock onsite, some of those you would be doing anyway. Dredging, new sheet pile, all of those sorts of things that you would end up. It would all not be new money if that were to happen. Our thought is that if you were going to actually build a graving dock there for instance, that the ship one, has to be gone from there while you are building the graving dock. So it has got to be some place.
Secondly, a lot of the repairs of the $16.1 million are superstructure repairs. Just painting, sandblasting and painting all the superstructure. It doesn't have anything to do with hull work. And then of course, when you sit this ship down in its graving dock, it is going to be sitting on the docking keels. They may or may not be structurally sound to take that kind of load. It is certainly going to take more engineering investigation.
So certainly, you are right. There is some overlapping costs in between there. I don't know exactly how much they are until it all done.
MR. COOK: But to be completely open here, there is a large contingency of the people who have been affiliated with it and associated with the battleship for years who do not want that ship out of water. They want it in water. And that is part of this, why we have got these numbers.
Also, if we spent the $27 million and the four or the two and the three, you know, we spend $30 some odd million to put it in a permanent graving dock, the graving dock itself is going to require repairs and maintenance and expenditures that we haven't talked about. So I think proceeding on with getting some additional details B
MR. WHISTON: Excuse me. $54,000 a year.
MR. WARD: For a graving dock, not a permanent dry berth.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: What is $54,000 a year?
MR. WHISTON: That is the annual maintenance costs that would be associated with a graving dock. A wet dry graving dock.
MR. BURTON: That wouldn't be a yearly cost, but on a pro-rated ten year basis where you had to replace pumps and things like that.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: $54,000 a year feels a lot different than $16 million.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I can do that.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: What would be the cost of the permanent dry dock, and not do anything do it? Just pull it out of the water and have it on the ground permanently?
MR. WARD: It is suppositional, but you are probably looking at $25 million, $27 million.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Is there a way to expand the slip it is in, pull it back, build something in its place and put it back without having to tow it to where ever?
MR. WARD: Yes. That is the plan for the permanent dry dock, where you are not floating. The permanent dry berth, what I call a cradle system, that is exactly what is that proposal.
MR. BURTON: I think what the Commissioner is saying is, is there a way to expand the berth to keep the ship onsite while you are constructing the graving dock?
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Well, and save the towing. I still am a little haunted Steve, by your quote from last April, or whenever that was, when you said it might sink in the ship channel. And the $27 million or the $16 million kind of pales in comparison to the losses incurred to the economy with that, and the cost of raising it.
COMMISSIONER BROWN: We could threaten to sink it, and Houston would come up with the money to repair it.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I like the way you are thinking.
MR. WHISTON: I would comment though, is that the cost of dredging and providing a mooring situation adjacent to where the ship now sits, you know, at the San Jacinto site right now, is a big number. It is a big investment to do what would be necessary to provide a space or a site to hole that ship close by.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: How realistic is the private sort of numbers? Do you think they B
MR. WARD: I don't have a feel for that. I am not a finance guy. But I do have enough common sense to know that that is a very large number and it is going to take a lot of work to cobble that together. It is certainly doable.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I want to commend you on the work you have done. I mean, that is a tough job.
MR. WHISTON: Commissioners, Commissioner Parker has suggested, with your permission, I would like to give an opportunity to the Battleship Foundation. If they have any comment for us.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I'd like to hear them. They are doing the hard work too.
COMMISSIONER PARKER: One more chair.
MR. WHISTON: He can have mine and I'll come back later.
MR. ALCORN: I am Charles Alcorn. And I am Chairman of the Battleship Texas Foundation. When I was 19 years old, I watched the battleship at Omaha Beach, shelling the Germans. There is a lot of history in this ship. It is the sole surviving Dreadnought. It first saw action in Mexico in 1914.
It was the flagship of the United States fleet. It took place in the Battle of Chatelaine during the first World War. We can't let this history simply disappear. We have to do something to preserve it for the future generation. So that they know what this history involved in this vessel was.
MR. LAGRONE: And I am Travis LaGrone, Executive Director for the Foundation. And just a brief history too, since we are getting history lessons. The Foundation's roots go all the way back to 1948, to the Battleship Texas Commission, when the ship first came to San Jacinto Park. In '83, when Parks and Wildlife took over the ship, the Commission, which was still appointed by the Governor became the Battleship Texas Advisory Board.
Then in 1997, based off of the dry docking experience, from '88 to '90, and the need for ongoing financing, the advisory board sunsetted and we became a 5018)(3) non-profit to specifically help Parks and Wildlife Department raise funds for these efforts. We presently are in an ongoing project now for site enhancements.
After the ship is dry docked, there are some amenities that we do want to add to the park to increase visitation. We know fund raising is a very difficult environment at its best, but then the events of 2001 drained a lot of funds out of this state.
The tsunami relief presently is draining a lot of funds. And when you have individuals like Mattress Mack and our former President on the TV constantly raising funds, that is taking available money out of our community. But irregardless, we have a national treasure. There is support.
But when we start talking about 16 every 15 years or $50 million immediately, those are large numbers. And you do have to have a public-private bond there. That is very important from the private side. They want to know that there is public support and they are waiting to see what this legislative session does with Prop 8 funding. We have an uphill battle in that regard.
But with some of the discussion that has already been laid out as to options, those are things that we can start formulating plans along with your assistance and start exploring things outside of the box. And so we are thankful for the opportunity to stand here.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: What has been your experience on the federal funding? First of all, I agree with you. It has got to be saved as you said. The history speaks for itself. That to me, is not an option. I mean, that has to be done. But the question is, is the fish and game agency the best place to do it? And what has been your experience with federal funding or attempts at getting federal funds?
MR. ALCORN: We have not at this point in time, attempted to get federal funding.
MR. LAGRONE: Large blocks. We do have a small HUD grant for an interpretive center to be added to the visitor's center that is being put down there. But as far as going for large blocks, we have not gone to that extent yet.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Have your fund-raising efforts expanded beyond Texas? It seems to me that this may be more of just a Texas project and it is more of a national project.
MR. LAGRONE: Right. We have approached 189 of the top defense contractors that are supportive of the Navy League and that is an ongoing process right now.
COMMISSIONER WATSON: Have you ever talked to somebody like the Smithsonian?
MR. LAGRONE: No.
COMMISSIONER WATSON: It seems like to me they house a lot of national treasures. And as you said, this is the United States Navy. This was the United States' war. It just happens that it says Texas on it.
MR. LAGRONE: And I think that you all have raised some valid concerns. Certainly, your concern of seeing it become another diving spot has some let's say, concern in that regard. And we hope that is not the case.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: No, I think the comment is that we are on the wrong B
MR. LAGRONE: Right.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Wrong Commission. And what is the best way you think to forge that private public partnership, so that we can go look for these different sources of funds?
MR. ALCORN: I think we could approach the federal government for funding. The last dry docking they provided $5 million for the dry docking. There is no reason not to ask for the same or more money for this dry docking.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Let me see if I can help put it into perspective. And Steve, you can help me with these numbers. But the last time I was looking at our deferred maintenance around the park system, exclusive of the San Jacinto monument and exclusive of the battleship, it was on the magnitude of $75 million or $80 million. And we had something on the magnitude of ten years of deferred maintenance that was out there.
If you take the battleship and San Jacinto and you put it on top of that, we are now looking at $120 million worth of deferred maintenance. And we are scrapping and fighting for five or ten or $20 million out of a biennium. That we may not get any. And so the money just simply isn't there in order to spread it across all of those constituents.
Not out of what Parks and Wildlife is getting out of the Legislature. Which means that we have to expand the breadth and width and numbers of potential funding sources. I mean, we have got to go to a much broader funding base in order to come close to providing these funds. And that is, I think, what we are really talking about right now.
And it seems to me that — Charlie Alcorn and I have been friends for a long time, and I have great respect for his energy and enthusiasm and passion for a lot of things. Not just the Battleship Texas. But it seems to me that we ought to be able to go for some type of federal funding. That could go a long way toward a much more permanent solution than what Barry was suggesting is we spend $16 million every ten years, and we simply narrow the scope of work we are able to accomplish every ten years, and in two or three decades it is over anyway.
And so we have got to do something that if we are going to preserve it, we need to preserve it for a very long time period, and not a very short time period. But I think that is what you want. Now there is a lot of debate about what that methodology is, but what is not in debate is we need to find the source funds. And the Parks and Wildlife simply is not getting it out of the Legislature.
We can't use Fund 9, the hunting and fishing license money. We have got to get it out of General Revenue or the Prop 8 bonds. And we are not getting it.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: And my point is that this is nobody wants to see the battleship deteriorate. I want more people to see it, and I want it to be in better shape. And I want it to be endowed if that is possible, or at least have a secure source of funding. But putting that on the shoulders of hunters, fishermen and park goers, it just doesn't make any sense.
Because it fought for the freedom of the nation, for everybody. And that is why, I think, that we need a broader group here. And bless your hearts, you guys sat here and listened to us talk about everything from periwinkles to mule deer all day. And I am sure it was not lost on you that I bet this is their only battleship.
MR. ALCORN: It is the only battleship, but the voters of Texas approved $12 1/2 million in the bond issue for the Battleship Texas.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Yes, sir. And you have got to get those bonds and that money.
MR. ALCORN: And we were working on getting those bonds released.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: But that can be done independent of whether or not you are a part of Parks and Wildlife or anything else. And you are absolutely right. If you put it to the voters, they will support the battleship. And I think that if we put it to a broader group of constituents, they will support the battleship. We'll do whatever we can to help you. But how do we get that started, Ned?
COMMISSIONER HENRY: You know, I have a question. Does any one particular Congressman or Senator have this high on the agenda, or you think would be willing to champion such an idea? Because from what I heard before, the $5 million you got came out of a bill that was passed in the Congress.
MR. ALCORN: In '89.
MR. WHISTON: That was with the original tow, Commissioner, back in 1989. That $5 million.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: That is what I mean. In '89.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: We had a friend in '89.
MR. WHISTON: We had a friend and I don't recall who.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: So do we have a friend now that would be willing to champion the cause?
MR. WHISTON: Well, to respond to your question.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: I am not talking about money per se now, but is there one who is favorably impressed with the Foundation, with the battleship, to the extent that you may be able to encourage them to take this on as a project?
MR. LAGRONE: All we can do is ask and see. We have got friends, but they have not been approached to come to the table, per se. And we were really waiting on this report to see what the options were going to be before us. We knew we had an immediate repair situation. We also knew that there was items being explored for longer term.
And so I can say we haven't approached anyone yet until we get a few more facts before us, and we are getting those now. So we can explore that. And I think it would be beneficial for the Commissioners, if you are feeling that Texas needs to have a broader participation, we would like to sit in with you as you talk about those discussions and who is B
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Let me see if I can make another point, though. The $12 1/2 million, while the voters approved it, the Legislature has not authorized the issuance of those bonds. And I know that you are working on that, and we are working on it too. But the problem is, that isn't enough. That does not solve the problem.
MR. LAGRONE: Correct.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: And I don't know whose Congressional District this is in. Gene Green, maybe? Is it Gene's or do you know?
COMMISSIONER HENRY: U.S.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: It's probable Gene's but between Gene and B
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Because it's Gallegos'.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: I mean we ought to — we have got some friends up there.
MR. WHISTON: Commissioner, back to your question, the only contact we have made is one with Representative Wayne Smith out of Houston. He has expressed a great deal of interest. Of course, this is Representative Smith's second term, so he is relatively new in the Legislature, but he is the only state rep or state leadership that has expressed to us a strong interest of support.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Do either of your gentleman have an opinion about whether or not it would make sense to move the ship to a place where it would have more traffic. You would expose more people to the story?
MR. ALCORN: We would love to move the ship to another location but it is a question of funding.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Sure. But I am just wondering if that makes any sense. You spend all of this money to get it out of the water and put it somewhere where people are.
COMMISSIONER PARKER: Mr. Chairman, to summarize this, we have a plan, we have several plans that we can proceed with. And might it be a suggestion to ask the Foundation to take these plans back to their board and find out what sort of action your board, you have heard the comments and the concerns here of this body. Take it back to your board and start collecting some ideas as to how to approach the problem and you can come back to us.
MR. LAGRONE: Our board meets the third Wednesday in February. So we will be making that presentation then. This is very timely.
COMMISSIONER PARKER: Maybe if Steve and our people could come and meet with your board.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Come back to us with some ideas of how to broaden that support base and I would say fundamentally, go after that federal money first. And we will be glad to make the trips with you and go and visit with people. I mean, personally, I will go. I will go make the trip to wherever it is. Washington or here.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Do you know of anyone representing former Navy people?
MR. COOK: Senator Ogden.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Senator Ogden is Navy. Yes.
MR. COOK: Naval Academy. It's a really good place to go. Thank you.
MR. WHISTON: Commissioners, thank you very much. We really appreciate your insight and guidance. This is actually the kind of conversation we would hope all this would generate. So we appreciate your help with this.
COMMISSIONER PARKER: Mr. Chairman, we are going to hear on Committee item number three. Life and safety repairs at the San Jacinto Monument.
MR. WHISTON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. Again, for the record, my name is Steve Whiston, the director of the Infrastructure Division. We'll try to push through these last two Committee agenda items quickly, so that we can tend to our obligations this evening.
As you well know, this past September, the San Jacinto Museum Association board of directors and Parks and Wildlife closed the elevator at San Jacinto monument and suspended public access up the tower to the observation deck to all the public and visitors at the monument. This action was taken in response to some fire safety concerns and conditions that were identified at the monument that potentially threatened the safety of the public there.
Jim, again is the project manager of the San Jacinto Monument project as well. And he is going to brief you on some fire study safety reports and studies that have been conducted and our recommendation to address those problems.
MR. BURTON: Okay. Thank you. For the record, I am Jim Burton, project manager in the Infrastructure Division. I know everyone is tired. I am going to try to push on through this. I thought I would give you a little brief history of the monument itself. It was started in 1936 and three years to the day after that, it was completed. It is a solid concrete shaft, and it is veneered in Cordoba limestone that was mined up here in Burnet, Texas, just north of Austin.
It is the world's tallest monument at 570 feet. Interestingly enough, if you stood the battleship on end, it is about three feet taller than the monument to put it in a little perspective. It is 15 foot taller than the Washington Monument. It weighs over 70 million pounds.
The foundation took 57 continuous hours to pour, and it is 15 foot thick in the middle and 5 foot thick out on through the outside edges. It is 125 feet square at the bottom and 30 feet square at the top. And we completed a renovation on 2002-2003 of about $10 million that replaced a bunch of the cracked limestones on the outside. The HVAC system and some things like that. And a lot of that was federal money. TxDOT T-21 money that furnished that.
I am going to talk about the significant floors. And I think that Steve or Vanna here is going to hold up the card. And we have several significant floors that are relevant here. We have got the basement down here below, and it is actually not a basement. What it actually is, is there is earth mounded up on the sides. It is actually at ground level, but they call it the basement.
The first level right here is the one that has the exhibit hall and the theater over here on this side. The second level is their library. The third is office space. Fourth, archives. All the way up here, there is a room. This is all empty, all in here, except for it is a concrete shaft, and I am going to show you some pictures inside of it. They were storing souvenirs here, right here is the observation deck, where you can go up the elevator and look out.
And up here is the elevator machine room, which is this antique 1954 type elevator machine room. So we will kind of refer back to that. What sort of started this thing rolling is that the museum association, which operates the museum there, and the theater, hired Herndon and Stock to do an existing conditions report. And this was in the process of their trying to see whether they wanted to build a new museum on the site, or could they renovate this space or what the situation was.
The report came back that they were in fire and safety violations, and that they recommended that we remove all the flammable items, close the elevator and hire a life safety engineer to do a real report, because they actually didn't have someone certified in life safety on their staff. So the museum association hired Rolf Jensen to go out and do a life safety report on the museum, and they ceased operation of the elevator to the public.
They still are operating in these four floor levels right here with their own staff members. What Rolf Jensen recommended, they had some essential recommendations and then some priorities down beyond that, but what they recommend is that there be no occupancy of the tower until a sprinkler system is installed. They recommended that there be a two hour fire wall built around the elevator shaft and stairwell, all the way up, all 50 floors, the complete length of the tower. They said we need to put a handrail all the way down on both sides of the stairwell, because it's only on one side.
And we need to make the basement through the fourth floor fire-rated, and don't store any more flammable stuff on the 49th floor up here. The museum association has responded to some of those things now. But Parks and Wildlife tried to respond pretty immediately to this, so we engaged Kellogg, Brown and Root, who is a job order contractor of that area of the state to go out and look at our situation there, and perhaps make some recommendations and come up with a rough order magnitude budget for fixes.
We met with the state fire marshal on the site to kind of run things by him to make sure that we weren't getting too far afield on what was going to pass any state fire codes, and we have now executed a contract with Kellogg, Brown and Root to do a design for the fire safety improvements. The revenue loss to the museum association is about $250,000 a year by closing the elevator, and that is not an insignificant sum to their operating budget.
MR. COOK: Jim, I think an important point there, that the museum association operates this site.
MR. BURTON: That is correct.
MR. COOK: Under an agreement with us, this volunteer organization, self-funded organization operates the San Jacinto Monument museum et cetera.
MR. COOK: That's right. We do basic maintenance, and they do all the operational things of the theater and the museum.
COMMISSIONER PARKER: They get the revenues.
MR. COOK: I'm sorry?
COMMISSIONER PARKER: Do they get the revenues?
MR. COOK: Yes, they do.
MR. BURTON: Yes, they get the revenues. And so the closing of the elevators hurt their operating budget fairly severely. We went out, and I'm showing you a picture of the interior of the shaft here. Essentially, this is a big concrete column with non-flammable material all the way up. It has these cross-beams. And it is all non-combustible.
This is another view of it, and if you can see, this right here is like the wire cage that goes all the way around the stairwell. This is the elevator shaft, running adjacent to it. It goes all the way from the basement, or actually from the first floor, all the way up to the 50th floor. So when we looked at that, we saw that it was actually, everything was non-combustible above the fourth floor level where we had occupants, where we had walls and partitions and everything like that.
So we felt like there was no real need to put in that is kind of out of order. But there was no real need to put in a complete and closed shaft all the way around. We already had a non-combustible shaft. It was just larger than a normal shaft. So what we have, we have some current design plans here. And one of them is to designate this 50th floor up here as an area of refuge. That is, during the event of a fire, someone could stay up there and not have to come down if they so chose, and it would still be okay.
And this is, you know, the fire marshal is sitting there reading his code books and we are going through this, and it is okay with him. So we did remove the flammable stuff from here. So what we are doing now, is we are going to enclose this area, the outside of this thing. And I have a better slide that we'll get to here, to make it all anything that has combustible material in it separate it from the central core shaft of the monument, which is all non-combustible material.
We would need to install a sprinkler system throughout the first four floors. And it really should have one now. It has a fire alarm system. It has no fire suppressant system at all.
MR. COOK: Basically Jim, as I see it, you would create a non-combustible shaft from the first floor to the fourth, through the fourth floor.
MR. BURTON: That is right.
MR. COOK: Where if anything on first, second, or third or fourth floor has completely separated from the shaft.
MR. BURTON: Yes. That is correct. And we have a slide that may illustrate those anyway.
MR. COOK: It can burn anyway.
MR. BURTON: Right.
MR. BURTON: Park of the design also would be to go ahead and modernize the elevator. The elevator was put in 1954. It must have an operator to operate. You may choose to do that, even if you modernize the elevator where it was self-driven, you may choose to do that, just so that you can monitor how many people are up there, what they are doing, all of those sorts of things. So that may be a choice.
But again, that is museum association employees that are doing that. But we would modernize all the control wiring. We would install a two way communication between up here and down here, and with the elevator, and we would establish a safe exit out through the bottom. This slide that you are seeing now is an example of how we would, what we call fire-harden the space. In other words, make it a two hour fire rating.
So any perforation, you would put two hour rated sheetrock up all the way around these areas. It is sort of like inside of the building there, we would be building this doughnut of fire-rated material with the center shaft as non-combustible and anything that is in the outer ring of the doughnut there is protected by fire-rated, and it has a sprinkler system on it, so that if there is a fire, it puts the fire out. We would have this emergency pathway.
This is the main floor of the monument, so that if someone chose not to stay up in the top during the event of fire, they could come down in the elevator. Right here is a big 3,000 pound brass doors. They would have to be hooked up to the alarm system, so that they automatically closed if the alarm system goes off. All of this area from the elevator right here to outside, this is all non-combustible limestone material. So someone could theoretically come down the elevator, exit out that front, if those doors were shut.
Now these are historic doors. We would have to get those fire-rated approved. But the fire marshal said he thought that would be no problem, that they are massive, you know. And that he felt sure they would be fire-rated. So at any rate, that is the current plan. So we have a project budget that we think to do this with. And it would be the design engineering, the sprinkler system, the fire hardening, the elevator upgrades, permits, et cetera.
$2.1 million is what we think that it would cost to upgrade the elevator and do all of these things, get it safe so that you could open it all back up again. Got any questions? I'll answer them.
MR. WHISTON: I would like to add that this particular design solution, which is about half of what the original study projected this improvement project would cost is the brainchild of Jim Burton. To his credit, he thought carefully through the issues there, and he came up with the idea to segregate and separate those occupied spaces down on the lower floors and not have to go to the extent of providing fire safety wall and separation all the way up the shaft.
Likewise, in our upcoming capital program briefing, I'll share with you our strategy for securing or requesting at least, this additional $2.1 million in our legislative appropriation request. But it is our proposal to move forward with that. And as Jim said, we would be happy to answer questions.
MR. COOK: Like the Battleship Foundation, we have, in the San Jacinto Museum Association, great friends, supporters, people in the Houston community and both of those organizations who are helping us across the board with the entire state park system. The gentleman you just heard from, specifically working on the battleship also, Sarita Hixon, who is Captain Armstrong's sister, if you have ever met her, you know what a fine friend and supporter she is.
She's currently the executive director or whatever they call it, of the museum association. She is a great lady and works hard, and we have been downtown together, and she has been downtown two or three times since. And I am sure she has gotten a little path beaten out now. She knows exactly the combination to all doors.
MR. WHISTON: Commissioner, we have set aside and are currently funding out of Prop 8 now the design costs to go forward with this project. Those are the funds that we are currently going to employ with or through Kellogg, Brown and Root to go ahead with the construction drawings for this project. And obviously, subsequently, monies for the actual construction would be contingent on the legislative approval of Prop 8.
COMMISSIONER PARKER: Anybody else have any questions on this?
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Good job.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Good job.
MR. BURTON: You are welcome.
COMMISSIONER PARKER: Next is Committee item number four, capital construction update. Steve.
MR. WHISTON: Thank you again, Chairman Parker, Chairman Fitzsimons, and Commissioners. Again, for the record, I am Steve Whiston, Director of the Infrastructure Division. We would like to conclude our Infrastructure Committee briefing this afternoon with our update of the Capital Program. I would like to begin as Bob shared with you earlier, with our Revenue Bond Program.
As Bob reported, I am also pleased to report the completion of our Revenue Bond Program, 424 projects. We invested $64.4 million in statewide facilities. Those funds allowed us to make a significant impact on our repair program, and we are happy to report that that program has been expended and complete. We continue to make good progress on our Prop 8 GO Bond program. As you know, the first tranche or first installment of Prop 8 was provided to us in January of '03.
We got $36.68 million of the $101 million voter-approved authority of Prop 8. That translated into currently 110 projects. We have expended to date of that $36 million, $37 million, we have expended $11.4 million of that issue and have encumbered a little under $9 million or $8.7 million of that issue. We are really working hard at trying to get the majority of the remainder of these funds encumbered or obligated to projects before the close of this fiscal year.
Our total capital expenditure for the year, for this fiscal year is on target. We began this fiscal year with 232 active projects that were budgeted at a little over $35 million. As this slide reflects, as of December 31, we have expended of that original amount $7.3 million. Our actual expenditure as of today's date is $8.5 million, so we feel like we are on track toward meeting our goal at the end of the year of fully expending an excess of $22 million for this fiscal year.
I wanted just to share, just a moment with you looking ahead. As I alluded to earlier, at Prop 8 for '06-'07. This, Commissioners, is our existing funding strategy for Prop 8. As you will again realize, under the FY '02-'03 category or column, we did receive that first issue of $36.68 million because of the funding shortfall. We did not receive any additional bond appropriation for this current biennium, '04-'05. Our request for '06-'07 that has been submitted to the Legislature is for $46.445 million.
That will include a little over $18 million for the biennium for state-wide scheduled repairs. It will allow us then to go forward with work at San Jacinto, Battleship Texas, to complete the Admiral Nimitz project, and to get underway with the development of the Levi Jordan plantation. That leaves us with a balance in terms of our full authority of about $18 million which we are proposing we would seek appropriation for in the '08-'09 biennium for our repair program. This captures our $46 million, this slide captures our $46 million legislative appropriation request for '06-'07 for capital.
As you recall, that $46 million is split between two priorities. Priority one, and priority ten in our LAR. Priority one includes, or totals $26 million, approximately. It includes the full $18 million, which is most important to us, for scheduled major repair projects, statewide for all facilities, all divisions. That priority includes the remaining $750,000 of authority needed to complete the project that is ongoing at Admiral Nimitz to restore and renovate the Admiral Nimitz Hotel and for the Battleship Texas, Levi Jordan Plantation, and the San Jacinto battleground.
Priority one provides us funds to do all the engineering and architectural planning to prepare all the construction drawings and do all the testings and preparation necessary to go forward with the project. Priority ten provides us the funds to actually do the construction. So Priority one would allow us to at least move forward with all the planning and the architectural construction drawings for those projects. As I pointed out earlier, the changes we are proposing, we have amended our priority ten request.
We are proposing to amend our priority ten request to include two items. The supplemental funds necessary to go forward with repairs to the Battleship Texas, to make that a fully funded project. If you will recall, that cost was estimated at $16.1 million. We have a $3.7 million need to realize that project. In addition, we are requesting, or propose to request the $2.1 million in that priority ten request for the repairs to San Jacinto Monument, which brings that new total to $26 million so far, and our total request for the biennium, from $46 million to $52.3 million.
I'd be happy to respond to questions regarding that later. Just to conclude, I wanted to share with you and share a few pictures of some of the projects that Bob mentioned earlier in his opening remarks on Chairman's Charges. The slide of our grand opening. A real successful event at Mission, Texas, at World Birding Center Headquarters.
It took place on October 23rd. To our surprise, and I can't recall of all places in the Rio Grande Valley the World Birding Center Headquarters celebrated a white Christmas this year. These are some of the facilities that have been developed. If you haven't had a chance to see of our new headquarters. The World Birding Center project at Weslaco, our second site. That project is well under way.
We wanted to give you all a glimpse of some of the new facilities that are being developed there. This is the new classroom building and restroom. This is a $3 million project at Weslaco, which provides the additional facilities of the World Birding Center.
We are going to have an opportunity tomorrow. You are going to hear a lot more about Sheldon Lake, Sheldon Environmental Learning Center. This has been an incredibly exciting project to be a part of, to watch the transformation of an older underutilized state park. Watch it transform into a very vital and important learning center. It has been a great project to be involved with.
And we appreciate all the contribution that Commissioner Henry has provided, and the leadership he has provided towards that. As Bob mentioned, on October 28, we did have an open house. We hosted that with the Communications Division and Parks Division. We consider it a very successful event, and we hope it generated some significant interest and support for our project.
Lastly, we are moving rapidly forward to complete the development of Government Canyon. A new state park outside of San Antonio. This new State Natural Area, excuse me, construction of that project, as Bob mentioned, is going to end this spring. And we have scheduled a grand opening for June 2.
This is a photograph of the new headquarters building. The administration building, and the water storage tanks that are on site, that would be a part of our rainwater collection system. That concludes my presentation, and I appreciate your support, and I would be happy to answer any questions.
COMMISSIONER PARKER: Any questions?
COMMISSIONER PARKER: On that, is there any other business to be brought before this Committee?
MR. COOK: No, sir.
COMMISSIONER PARKER: Mr. Cook?
MR. COOK: No, sir.
COMMISSIONER PARKER: Hearing none, this Committee has completed its business, and we are adjourned.
(Whereupon, the meeting was adjourned.)
MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, Ad Hoc Infrastructure Committee
LOCATION: Austin, Texas
DATE: January 26, 2005
I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 65, inclusive, are the true, accurate, and complete transcript prepared from the verbal recording made by electronic recording by Penny Bynum before the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.
On the Record Reporting, Inc.
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