The Port Arthur News
John Beard wants to put the pleasure back in Pleasure Island.
The former Port Arthur city councilman was appointed Tuesday to serve on the Pleasure Island Commission, replacing longtime commissioner James Gamble.
Beard’s appointment, made at the recommendation of District 4 Councilman Robert Troy, is the first since Port Arthur voters approved a shift in Island operations from the nine-member Pleasure Island Commission to the city.
The Commission will remain in an advisory capacity, with Port Arthur City Manager Floyd Johnson in charge of operations.
“I think John is a good choice,” Troy said. “I know he is a very aggressive person; he is a good appointment to that body.
Gamble had expressed interest in leaving the board, Troy said.
“He asked me to find a replacement. I thought he did a wonderful job while he was there, he admitted he was tired,” Troy said.
In his new role, Beard said he is ready to get started bringing the Island back to the people.
“I hope to bring progress to the Island Commission to turn it from that diamond in the rough we all talk about to the gem of the gulf coast,” Beard said.
One of the first projects Beard plans to work on is to restore Logan Park to a venue for musical concerts and other activities.
During the last few years, the park’s condition has deteriorated to the point that it sits idle.
Improving marketing efforts and developing Island assets are also key areas that need attention, Beard said.
“From the marina, to the Island itself, to the group that is proposing a casino on the Island, to other interests that want to bring amusement parks, recreation and other amenities, there is much to do to make the Island a place that is fun again. I want to put he pleasure back in Pleasure Island,” Beard said.
Though he has pledged to bring more public attractions to the Island, those projects must co-exist with neighborhoods and subdivisions already there.
“There are areas where people live now like Mariners Cove and Lafitte’s Landing. I want to make sure we preserve the integrity of those neighborhoods and residential areas so people that live there don’t feel like the other developments would be encroaching on their lifestyle,” Beard said. “Any type of commercial or industrial development must be suitable for the Island.
Pleasure Island, he said, needs to become self sufficient and a contributor to the city’s’ economic base and to create jobs for Port Arthur people.
Beard served three full terms on City Council for a total of nine years, and was on the city’s economic board prior to his tenure on City Council.
Beard joins other Island commissioners: The Rev. Darrell Anderson, Terry Doyle, Christy DeRouen, Jimmy Whitley, Ricky Reese, Eric Lovilotte, Edith Neveaux, and Brian McZael.
Each city council member and the mayor are responsible for making one recommendation to the Commission. Those recommendations must be approved by City Council.
Troy said he expects City Council to schedule a workshop in the near future to establish guidelines of what is expected out of the Island Commission now that their role has changed.