Texas A&M University

University Students Help Clean Fort San Jacinto in Galveston

A group of island college students could soon be bringing new life to a site of Galveston history.

The Galveston County Daily News reports Circle K club students at Texas A&M University at Galveston have been picking up trash at Fort San Jacinto for about a year, but club leaders want to take the effort to a higher level, Vice President Clare Shea said.

The fort is on the East End, just north of where Boddeker Road intersects with Seawall Boulevard, but it's hard to see from the road because it's overgrown, she said.

"We're looking for areas to set up picnic tables and set it up for tourists to come fish and hang out and learn," Shea said.

Shea, a junior, first heard about the fort's disrepair from the Galveston Kiwanis Club, an international service organization, she said.

Circle K is the college level version of Kiwanis.

Over the past year, the club has picked up more than 20 bags of trash from the site, Shea said.

Built in 1898, Fort San Jacinto was the first headquarters for Galveston's harbor defenses, according to the Texas State Historical Association. The fort was named in honor of the Texan victory over Mexican troops at San Jacinto and contained three gun batteries and a control station, according to the association.

Now, the land is U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property, spokesman Lt. Col. Mark Williford said.

The university club began cleaning trash last spring, but the area has so much more potential, Circle K President Rick Fuentes said.

"We would like to unveil this because right now it's not seen," Fuentes, a freshman, said. "You cannot see it from the road."

The site is covered with graffiti, much of it lewd, and overgrown, he said.

While plans are still in the conceptual stage, the club wants to place some picnic tables, build walking trails, add a fishing pier and build a kayak launch at the fort, Fuentes said.

"Right now, we're just working on cleaning it up," Fuentes said.

But the club could develop a proposal within the next few weeks to find some money for the project, he said.

He estimates the project will cost about $50,000, but the students still have some more assessment to complete, he said.

It's a great project to pursue with recent efforts to develop the nearby East End Lagoon, Frank Maceo said.

Maceo, a former Galveston city councilman, has been helping the students organize their project proposals.

"People hang out there already," Maceo said. "We just need to make it safe. I'm pretty excited to see what they come up with."

The site is an incredible wealth of history in Galveston, Williford said.

"It's very important to let those students go out there and do that great public service that they're doing and learn that history of Galveston," Williford said.

The corps would be interested in hearing any proposals to update the site, but would need to make sure any projects comply with state and federal requirements, he said.

Shea hopes the project will bring out the important history of the fort, though she knows it might be several years before its completion, she said.

"We'd love to get it started and leave a legacy here at our school," Shea said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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