, Port Arthur, Texas

April 30, 2013

Vote no to city hall takeover of Island

John Chirafis
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — Let me start by saying I have lived in Port Arthur for almost 50 years. I’ve raised my family here and ran and owned a retail shop and strip shopping center in the area.

I was on the Pleasure Island Commission for 16 years. The Commission is composed of City Council appointees who serve four-year terms, subject to reappointment. These individuals are focused on one main responsibility, and that is to oversee the running and development of Pleasure Island. These appointees get no pay for their services.

They hire the director who hires and oversees the small staff of four. This is the best deal for the citizens of Port Arthur that you could imagine. This group works very hard to develop the Island for the public’s recreation and commercial development. I could name many improvements to the Island since I first came in 1964. Back then, there was basically a small marina, a dilapidated hall and pool that nobody at the city wanted to update. The hall burned down, the pool cracked, the golf course closed and the bridge was out of service for extended lengths of time. The city didn’t think the Island was worth spending funds on. Since the Island was taken over by a commission, appointed by City Council, the Island has three public boat ramps, miles of bike trails, a sail boat launch, miles of waterfront access, elevated board walk, well kept parks, three RV parks, boat and RV storage, $8 million public state-of-the-art marina, condos, land available for citizens to buy and build a house on, fishing piers, golf course in the process of being rebuild after the storm, and grass and trash that get cut and picked up on a regular basis. The advantages the people in the area derive is they receive all of this public access to all these above mentioned amenities without taxpayers’ contributions. The taxes on commercial and residential property go to City Hall. The Island has to survive from funds received from business leases, RV, marina, stores, boat yard, etc., to pay salaries and maintenance. Now that’s a great deal for the citizens of Port Arthur. You should ask yourself before going to the polls if it is better to hand this valuable piece of property over to the city council, a political body, or keep it in the hands of dedicated appointees of the city council who have only one focus, and that’s to keep pleasure Island open to the public, well kept, and continuously developing. Or do you want to take a chance that the city council, mayor, city manager, with all their other expenses and responsibilities, will focus on this valuable resource. Please vote to keep Pleasure Island on a track to continue to grow and develop for all the citizens in our area. Vote no to city hall taking over Pleasure Island.

Thanks for your consideration.

John Chirafis

Port Arthur