PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

October 10, 2013

County to meet regarding Ford Park hotel and water park, PA health clinic

Erinn Callahan
The Port Arthur News

BEAUMONT — Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick has issued a request for development proposals for a water park and convention hotel at Ford Park. The Jefferson County Commissioners Court will consider and possibly approve Branick’s proposal at a Monday meeting at the Jefferson County Courthouse, 1109 Pearl Street, Beaumont, at 1:30 p.m.

“This is just to test the waters,” said Fred Jackson, assistant to the county judge. “We want to see who, if anyone, might be interested in it.”

With the baseball fields at Ford Park becoming a popular locale for baseball and softball tournaments, the hotel could increase the facility’s business, Jackson said.

“We believe that with the facilities that are already there, providing additional hotel space may be an opportunity to increase convention business,” Jackson said. “And we think the water park would be a very good attraction, and increase tourism.”

Precinct 3 Commissioner Michael “Shane” Sinegal said he didn’t expect to see the request on the agenda, as he was previously told that the plan wouldn’t be set forth until around December. Sinegal added that he wouldn’t be surprised if the motion were tabled.

“I had several questions, and I haven’t had any answers to them,” Sinegal said. “I thought we were going to workshop this thing some more.”

The Port Arthur health clinic project will be another topic of discussion at Monday’s meeting. The court will hold a workshop at 10:30 a.m. to receive an update from Chica & Associates, Inc., the Beaumont-based civil engineering company that was awarded the bid for construction on the new building, which will house the health clinic and indigent health services in addition to adult probation.

“It's something we've been needing for quite a while,” Jackson said. “The other building was old, and it was in a flood plain. This one will be more accessible for the clients that need it, and it will provide new office space that the probation department needed.”

Sinegal said the court is looking to spend anywhere from $2.3 to $2.5 million on the building, which will be located in the 800 block of Fourth Street in Port Arthur and replace the current building in the 300 block. The court will vote on how to fund that balance at Monday’s workshop. A possibility, Sinegal said, is utilizing unused funds from Drainage District 7 projects.

“Whatever money's left over, we're going to have to decide where we're going to get the balance of the money for the construction of the health clinic,” Sinegal said.

Another option is simply downsizing the new building, but Sinegal said he doesn’t favor that.

“I think it’s going to be just the right size we need for the operation of our health clinic and indigent services, as well as adult probation,” he said.

Email: ecallahan@panews.com

Twitter: @ErinnPA