PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

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July 1, 2013

McFaddin Beach-goers bemoan lack of upkeep

SABINE PASS — Strolling McFaddin Beach barefoot is not recommended.

After a short time, the shoreline begins to recede, eventually giving way to gravel and sharp pointed rocks at the edge of the murky waters.  That assumes, of course, one can even find the shoreline amid the piles of seaweed and debris that litter the shore. With no garbage cans in sight, the remnants of meals and beverages remain wherever people throw them.

According to Jennifer Jarrett, this is a good day.

“Normally we have to bring a shovel and make a path for our kids,” said the Nederland resident. “We don’t want them to step on glass or jellyfish.”

Despite the beach’s off-putting appearance, Jarrett makes occasional day trips to the stretch of sand that extends approximately 20 miles between High Island in Chambers County and Sea Rim State Park in Jefferson County. But she grows visibly frustrated when she talks about the beach’s upkeep — or lack thereof.

“We usually go to Crystal Beach, and it aggravates me because we’re so close to here,” Jarrett said. “People aren’t on their game.”

Jarrett can recall a time when Crystal Beach, located on the Bolivar Peninsula, closely resembled McFaddin — until, she said, someone took initiative and cleared the eyesores away. She sees no reason why the same can’t be done at McFaddin.

“People are going to want to spend money in your town if you take care of what you need to take care of,” Jarrett said.

‘Even after Ike, we’re still here’

Becky Dolas echoed Jarrett’s sentiment. Dolas moved to Sabine Pass at age 15 from another coastal town — Holly Beach, La. — and now works at Sportsman Supply, 5310 S. Gulfway Drive, Sabine Pass, where she sells bait and other supplies to the fishermen who stop by en route to McFaddin.

Over the years, the crowds have thinned, Dolas said — even more so after Hurricane Ike.

“We’ve slowed down majorly,” she said. “But even after Ike, we’re still here.”

Dolas remembered a pristine beach bustling with activity — a far cry from the seaweed-strewn picture of today. She said the blame lies with the city of Port Arthur for not maintaining McFaddin.

“It’s a shame,” Dolas said. “They ought to try to get people down here instead of running them off.”

An estimated 50 percent of Sabine Pass’ population never returned after 2008’s storm, and those who did are still reeling from Ike’s wrath five years later. But, Dolas said, the community is steadily rebuilding itself.

“If they opened that road again, it’d really get going,” she said.

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