The Port Arthur News
Additional upgrades could be on the way for some of Port Arthur’s 33 parks if a new program proposed by the city’s economic development corporation gets the go-ahead from City Council.
Port Arthur EDC members at their Monday meeting unanimously approved the implementation of the Neighborhood Park Enhancement Program. The program will need the approval of City Council before it can be implemented, and will rely on resident suggestions to determine worthy projects.
City Council will consider the matter on Nov. 12 at the next regular board meeting.
If approved, the EDC would dedicate an annual allotment of $500,000 for upgrades such as new benches, picnic tables, walking trails, gazebos, etc. Each approved park project would be eligible for funding up to $75,000.
The funding is the last of a three-year EDC commitment approved by voters in 2011 for parks and recreation projects. Already, the EDC has expended $1 million during the last two fiscal years for improvements to larger parks projects such as those at Adams Park.
“We want the community to know this EDC board has set aside funds for community parks enhancements and want them to come with their ideas,” Batiste said.
For a parks project to be eligible for consideration, at least three homeowners, a neighborhood organization, can bring their plans to the EDC board.
If selected, and approved by City Council, the EDC will hire an architect to assist with the design and putting together the necessary specifications.
Batiste said the EDC board felt it was important to spend money on the city’s smaller parks since voters from all parts of the city approved the Proposition two years ago.
“Because the total community voted for this proposition, we wanted to give back to the total community — the people in Pear Ridge, West side, Sabine Pass, etc.,” Batiste said. “A lot of the time my board felt like smaller communities were overlooked because these are small community parks.”
Already, the EDC has one request for improvements to a West Side park that would include a walking trail, benches, gazebo, and a water fountain.
Port Arthur Mayor Deloris “Bobbie” Prince said she would likely be in favor of the project, though the Council is not yet familiar with how it would work.
“I think it would be a good idea,” Prince said. “We would be on the road to making those parks family-oriented parks, a place where families can go and enjoy themselves.”