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The size and location of an "interactive nature center" would have to be negotiated.
There's also the practical realities of funding the project. The $1.2 billion would eventually have to come from a mixture of federal and local funds, revenue from the Port, and bond sales that voters would have to approve. Harris County commissioners are currently weighing the Port's request to conduct a referendum on selling $300 million in bonds for the initial phases of the Bayport project.
Barrera, who says Houston and Harris County have always had a "can-do attitude" in supporting the Port's bond votes, says that residents of El Jardin, Shoreacres and Seabrook will have to accept that Bayport will become a reality.
"This has been in the works for a long, long time," she says. "We've got to be responsive to the community, but this is our property, and this is where we're building.... To the extent we can mitigate any lost wetlands, we will; to the extent we can build buffer zones, we will. But it's been our property for a long time, and although it's not zoned industrial, that was always going to be its use."
Cherry says sometimes she thinks Barrera is right. "Some days I'm real positive about it, and I think we can stop this, but other days I get more discouraged, when I don't get phone calls returned from agencies that should be helping us, and I just wonder what is going on," she says.
A few days later, she was standing, on a blazing Saturday afternoon, on a street that seemed to sum up much of El Jardin. Her fixer-upper house was in the background, still a work in progress; it sat next to an empty lot she covets, whose owner has sensed the renewed interest in the area and is holding out for more money.
Next to that was the unique home of an older cousin, the inside a camping-lodge living room with walls covered with deer and other game trophies; the outside a big, varied garden with a large pond that housed an alligator, until it took after a local dog. Across the street were aligned three older houses moved in recently from the Heights area, ready to be refurbished and eventually become homes.
"It's maybe not a Street of Dreams where you have to pay five dollars to take a tour, but it's our street of dreams," Cherry said. "I tell people about what's going to happen, and they say, 'Just move,' but they don't know what we have out here. It's a neighborhood of misfits. If working-class people want to live on the Gulf, they can't afford Seabrook, but they can afford it here. This is a last haven. We have something priceless, and we don't want to let it go."
E-mail Richard Connelly at firstname.lastname@example.org.