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Should parks be sold? Port Arthur planning to rehabilitate others if voters approve

The city of Port Arthur is planning to sell six of its 35 parks and hopes to receive funding to improve the rest, but a public vote is required.

When citizens go to the polls May 2, they’ll vote for or against a proposition allowing the city to sell Civic, Hughen, Montgomery, Felix and Milton Barker, Immigrant and Carver Terrace parks.

They’ll also get to decide whether the Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation can give one-eighth of its proceeds from a ½-cent sales tax toward rehabbing the remaining parks for four years.

It wouldn’t be the first time the EDC has given back to the city.

Civic Park, 2201 Lakeshore Dr., is located just a few blocks away from Hughen Park. (I.C. Murrell/The News) 2-17-20

“It’s for the citizens of Port Arthur,” EDC director Floyd Batiste said. “The parks department is just one of the departments of the city we use. Prior to this, we contributed one-eighth to streets and maintenance. In the last four years we gave them $5 million.”

Batiste projects the EDC would pump $6 million into the city’s Parks and Recreation Department if the tax proposition passes.

“We look at the needs of the city,” he said. “Because we operate off of sales tax, we don’t want it sitting in the bank. We wanted to give it to the people.”

Port Arthur Parks and Recreation Director Chandra Alpough said some of the parks are located within a 2- to 3-mile radius of each other.

The idea of selling the six parks, she added, was generated after looking at the number in parks in comparison with the staff the city has for maintenance. The city employs seven parks maintenance workers, she said.

“It would be beneficial to the parks department if we had less parks to maintain,” Alpough said. “You look at other comparable cities, the number of parks compares to the number of people we do not even have. We have too many parks for the staffing that we have. So, we can sell some of the parks and maintain some of the parks we currently have, making it a better condition.

“The idea is to, basically, sell some of those parks, put the focus into the other parks and possibly enhance those that are left to make them even more aesthetically pleasing for the citizens to come out and utilize the parks,” she added.

Although the sale of the parks is on the general election ballot, two public hearings on the proposal must be heard, but none was listed on the agenda for Tuesday’s city council meeting.

The addresses for the parks proposed for sale are:

  • Civic Park, 2201 Lakeshore Dr.
  • Hughen Park, 2749 Lakeshore Dr.
  • Montgomery Park, 900 Rev. Dr. Ransom Howard St.
  • Felix and Milton Barker, 4801 6th St.
  • Immigrant Park, 3355 Hwy. 73, and
  • Carver Terrace Park, 1100 W. Gulfway.

Two other locations were incorrectly listed as proposed for sale in a Friday, Feb. 14, issue about the general election ballot in Port Arthur, due to incorrect information provided to The News. Both Lakeshore Park and Pleasure Island Golf Course are not among the locations proposed for sale.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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