PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

November 14, 2013

Stage deleted, marquee added in PA pavilion project

Sherry Koonce
The Port Arthur News

— An improvement project to Port Arthur’s downtown pavilion is still expected to be completed by the end of the year, but the design has changed once again with the deletion of a performance stage and the inclusion of a marquee.

The project was first envisioned three years ago, and has gone through numerous changes after the initial $900,000 projected cost exceeded the available funding.

Originally, the design included a dedicated performance stage, three marquees, vented louvers, exterior neon and LED lighting and a retro facade.

The pared down design included a dedicated stage, but now there are problems with that design, John Comeaux, assistant city manager, said.

On Tuesday Comeaux told City Council the stage proposed is not an all-weather stage, and is only 2-feet tall. Costs to build a weatherized stage and to increase the height another two feet would be excessive, Comeaux said.

Headline performers associated with Southeast Texas Mardi Gras typically want a 4-foot stage, Comeaux said.

He recommended replacing the stage with marquee lettering, a part of the project that was previously deleted. Eliminating the stage will result in a savings of $23,818 for a total of contract cost of $486,085.

District 1 City Councilman Raymond Scott Jr., asked Comeaux to look into the cost of building a weatherized and taller stage at Tuesday’s meeting.

“The stage was in the original scope; that should be the main attraction,” Scott said.

Comeaux estimated it would cost an additional $20,000 to $30,000 to weatherize the stage. The price did not include the added height.

Since construction of the pavilion started going on a year ago, there have been numerous delays, mostly due to design problems.

The pavilion is expected to be ready in time for this year’s Mardi Gras festivities in Port Arthur.

Laura Childress, Southeast Texas Mardi Gras president, said the group had looked forward to having a new performance stage, but would compensate by continuing the practice of renting one.

Each year, Mardi Gras organizers spend about $20,000 to $22,000 to rent three stages, including the necessary sound equipment.

“We are glad to have the enhancements for the pavilion. We were looking forward to a new stage, but have managed for 20-something years now to rent one that served our needs, so that will be our plan again this year,” Childress said.

City Council approved the project unanimously Tuesday, as well a 4-day extension on the contractor’s, N&T. Construction Co’s., contract.  The extension is needed for days the company could not work because of rain, Comeaux said.

As part of the latest changes, N&T employees will be removing planter boxes surrounding the pavilion along Procter Street.

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