Hope and homes arise in downtown Port Arthur

Published 10:14 am Wednesday, October 24, 2018


And a playground.

That’s how downtown Port Arthur residents need to think about the burgeoning neighborhood that’s developing in and around St. Peter Claver Hall.

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A couple of new three-bedroom brick homes are complete; four are nearing completion and work is underway on another. Stand at Augusta and Fifth Street and you can see the lot where a four-story home is planned. Homes will be built from West Atlanta to East Nashville, from Fifth to Seventh streets.

All of the houses will be made homes by working families, people intent on living worthy lives and who will contribute to the city’s future. They’ll show good credit ratings and pay their bills on time — all part of the purchase deal.

And a playground.

Legacy Community Development Corp., which is providing many parts needed to create a neighborhood, says there will be 30 homes built in phase 1, 30 in phase 2. They’ll be located a short walk from a downtown townhome complex in the shadow of the seawall. In all, there will be 180 homes available to working families downtown, neighbors who’ll serve as the advance forces for a downtown population rebirth.

And a playground.

That playground matters for the promise it provides, something more grand even than new brick and mortar in a part of this city which hasn’t seen enough such stuff in a while. That playground delivers the promise of children, another generation that will follow families that will settle in this neighborhood.

KaBOOM! provided much of the funding and knowhow for building a playground, which will be centered on 2,500 square feet in what was a neglected city park. Neglected no more.

That’s because 160 volunteers converged on the site Friday, erecting a safe and colorful play area that should serve the neighborhood that will spring up around it. Volunteers included city workers and sponsors’ employees and fraternity and sorority members and more. Sunny skies and warm temperatures helped matters along.

Chandra Alpough, parks and rec director in Port Arthur, said the goal was to build the park in six hours and, with the clock ticking down Friday, it looked like they might make it. No matter if they didn’t; the park itself will provide untold hours of fun for children 2-10 who will congregate there.

There will be some respite for parents, too, who might sit in shaded areas and watch their children play.

“It’s a wonderful project. We hope it will go well with the revitalization,” said Stacy Matthews of Legacy. “We are changing the downtown area.”

Indeed they are. So is the city. Plans are one thing, execution another. Within eyesight of the park, houses and hope are on the rise. That’s execution. That’s something the city and select believers are providing downtown.

That, and a playgound.