PNG’s corner lot may get new ownership

Published 12:27 pm Monday, May 22, 2017

PORT NECHES — A prime piece of real estate at the corner of Merriman and FM 366 may soon have new ownership.

A person in the public sector who is interested in eight acres of that land has approached trustees with Port Neches-Groves Independent School District. There is a total of 19-plus acres at the location owned by PNGISD.

Darren McCutcheon, PNGISD board president, said if the land is sold or exchanged for other property that the district’s totem pole and “welcome” sign would remain.

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“We’re going to dictate to whoever it is, they cannot take the totem pole away from there. We will retain a small piece of land and the “welcome to the reservation” sign. That would not go away,” McCutcheon said.

An appraisal was done on five acres of the land some years ago and that came to about $780,000. Then, breaking it down by acre, the total estimated price of the eight acres comes in somewhere from $1.5 to $2 million.

There are options for the land — it can either be sold outright or a trade of property/building could be made.

A reason for a possible land swap is that PNGISD operates its administration in two buildings — the central administration office in Port Neches and another set of administrators at West Groves Education Center in Groves. Having a centralized facility to hold all of the administration and its needs would be a cost savings.

While the district owns the land they are unable to build a new administration, or any other school building, on that property due to the close proximity of nearby refineries. State law prohibits any school buildings so close to a refinery.

Decades ago there was talk of possibly placing the high school stadium on the property but that never happened. Then there was talk of placing a new school there but that idea was cut off when legislation came down prohibiting the placement of a school that houses children within a specific proximity. At last one of the district’s schools was grandfathered in — Port Neches Middle School — because it already existed in its location before the ruling was made.

Through the years the district has allowed a local girl’s softball league to build fields on a far end of the property.

McCutcheon said there are some generalities the board would like to see added in any agreement.

“We would like to ask them (purchaser) to develop ingress and egress to reach the other 12 acres of property,” he said. “We don’t want to lose the back half of the land.”