GALVESTON — Construction at the Sea Scout Base, 7511 Broadway, has been underway for almost two years. But the recent arrival of a 135-foot tall crane at the site has renewed curiosity about the development, which by some estimates represents a $30 million investment that could lure about 18,000 visitors a year to the island.
The crane is necessary to handle pre-cast concrete pilings for a five-story, 60,000-square-foot building that will house dormitories, housing for counselors and event space, said Jeff Mickler, president of contractor Jacob White Construction Co.
The building, expected to be complete by June next year, is part of the development’s second phase, which also will include a 1,500-square-foot restroom facility and a 2,500-square-foot Ranger House. The house will be moved, raised and renovated to provide space for boat skippers and harbormaster facilities.
The second phase also includes 20 boat slips to go with 30 already built.
Education & recreation
The Sea Scout Base will fill a need for a premier educational and recreational facility in the region for the Boy Scout program, officials said. Its mission is to provide nautical education and leadership training to children and young adults.
Along with the dormitories and meeting spaces for scouts and staff, Sea Scout Base-Galveston will boast such amenities as an eco-friendly garden and pool.
Jacob White Construction, which specializes in energy-efficient methods, will construct a building at the site that will meet Leadership Energy and Environmental Design Platinum requirements. For a building to get such a rating, it must be built in a way that lowers operating costs by conserving energy, water and materials, among other criteria.
The Sea Scout Base-Galveston, which has secured accreditations and licenses from Boy Scouts of America and the Texas Department of Health Services, already is offering summer sessions in kayaking and sailing but in a limited capacity while construction continues.
“It gives us a chance to work the kinks out,” said Eric Steele, director of camping services, program development and properties for Boy Scouts of America-Bay Area Council.
Along with the kayak, sailing and water training already offered, the base will eventually offer lifeguarding skills and scuba certification, he said.
With limited programs, officials are able to train staff and travel to other camps for ideas and expertise, Steele said. The investment hasn’t just been in infrastructure, but also in people, Steele said. Sea Scout Base-Galveston recently sent one person to Alaska to learn sea kayaking, he said.
Programs for Boy Scouting, Venturing and Sea Scouting are open to children and young adults ages 13 to 21.
Ultimately, officials hope to offer programs through the BaySmart program and Cub Scouting programs to children as young as 8, Steele said.
As part of the BaySmart program, the base will offer a floating classroom in a 110-foot-long crew boat undergoing nearly $2.5 million in renovations.
The engines have been replaced, and the boat will have new amenities, including iPads, Steele said. The U.S. Coast Guard-inspected vessel would allow students to attend classes in a safe environment on water, Steele said.
A classroom on a boat heightens attention among students, Steele said.
The Sea Scout base also is partnering with U.S. Sailing, the national governing body for the sport of sailing. U.S. Sailing’s mission is to provide leadership for the sport of sailing.
A $30 million investment
Officials with the Boy Scouts of America-Bay Area Council declined to confirm the investment value of the development.
The very private Doolin family has made a large part of the financing of the development possible.
By some accounts, the investment value of the development is upward of $30 million.
Some passers-by have raised concerns about the crane, which, when not in use, swings over Broadway. But Mickler said that there’s no cause for concern.
The sight of a big crane over the freeway is unsettling for some observers, Mickler said. But the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires the crane be allowed to spin in the wind to keep a strong gust from knocking it down, Mickler said.
At a glance
For information about the Sea Scout Base-Galveston programs, contact Eric Steele, director of camping services, program development and properties director for Boy Scouts of America-Bay Area Council, at 409-744-5206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.