, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

July 18, 2013

Residents voice concerns about Wheelhouse

PORT NECHES — Several Port Neches residents voiced concerns about the proposed Neches Wheelhosue Restaurant project during Thursday’s meeting.

Council, after just more than an hour’s closed session, took no action on the matter. Thursday marked the fourth time council discussed the topic.

A group of investors who have formed a limited liability corporation hopes to build a riverfront restaurant adjacent to Port Neches Riverfront Park. Some see the project as a catalyst to future development along the river. Others worry the project will fail and the city will lose a valuable piece of property.

Bill Boudreaux told Council he was in favor of the project but worried, like others in attendance, about ownership of the property should the restaurant fail. The restaurant group is asking for the city to transfer ownership for a nominal cost in order to build a 3,500-square-foot open-air facility. One option is for the city to transfer ownership to the Port Neches Economic Development Corporation, who, in turn, would transfer the property to the investors.

The residents in attendance wanted to know what arrangements will be made to protect the city should the project fail. Port Neches City Manager Andrè Wimer provided a general answer before council went into executive session.

“For lack of a better term, there will be three layers of protection,” Wimer said. “One, the city controls the zoning. Two, deed restrictions, and three, contractual stipulations between the city and the restaurant group which would line out dates for the start of construction.”

Elton Jones, 81, was born in Port Neches and had a hand in building the boat ramp and was involved with the development of the public library. He feels the city should lease the property to the restaurant group instead of selling it.

“Lease the land if you like, but let’s not give up control,” Jones said. “That is one of the best pieces of land in the city.”

John Davenport, Place 3 councilmember, summed up the city’s position.

“We live here too and do not want to see an eyesore,” Davenport said, adding that the property was bought with the vision of riverfront development. “We’ll do what we can to have as much control as we can for the city.”

Attorney Jesse Branick is providing the city with legal counsel on the issue.


Twitter: MaryMeauxPANews


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