Imagine Port Arthur: It’s our way forward

Published 6:56 pm Monday, April 30, 2018


It seems certain the Port Arthur City Council will approve the latest version of a comprehensive plan for development this month, as well the council members should.

From all appearances, Imagine Port Arthur 2018 seems to be an intriguing and well-rounded concept of what the city might become. We can all dream, right? If we don’t imagine the best and most creative version of our community, we’ll never get even a pleasing or satisfactory one.

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Important to remember is the word “we.” The city has made sure to include the public at many or most key steps in the development of the plan, which took more than four years to complete.

The city has entertained ideas and encouraged input from citizen groups, the business community, our youth and other stakeholders. All have had a chance to weigh in.

The latest public input came before last week’s City Council meeting, in a special hearing at City Hall. A lone citizen spoke out with skepticism about the plan, questioning its cost and utility. Implementing the plan, he suggested, would be “like putting lipstick on a pig.”

We’ll grant him this: Port Arthur faces huge challenges in rebuilding and refashioning itself. The city has decayed to a frightening level.

And, yes, too often government at all levels fund plans that never come to fruition. But this time, it seems City Hall has taken the right steps in planning and crafting Imagine Port Arthur 2018. The time is right, too, as Port Arthur should receive some flow of outside cash related to hurricane and flood restoration.

The city has been operating with a plan that’s now pushing three decades old. It’s past time for new ideas. This current plan is about eight years overdue for replacement, in that comprehensive plans are only good for about 20 years.

In fact, the city’s Home Rule charter — it’s now almost four decades old — requires that Port Arthur have a comprehensive plan, which the city calls a “big picture” of our community and what it might become.

It is, as one local citizen called it at the public hearing, a “living document.” There are ideas presented upon which the city could be built. Some of these include a revival of the downtown; others suggest reconnecting to the concept of established, though sometimes faded neighborhoods.

Many of these concepts rely upon vigorous action following planning: rebuilding infrastructure and roads, creating and enforcing ordinances, encouraging construction that adheres to the plan and complements existing strengths, of which there are many. That should hold true for commercial corridors as well as for residential areas; the plan seems to address these aspirations.

A look around town should convince us of this: Now is better than later, today better than tomorrow.