PA Council roundup: USA Rail, Motiva projects property abandonments; election set; $25 questioned

Published 12:27 am Saturday, August 8, 2020

Port Arthur council members last week approved the abandonment of property for USA Rail Terminals and Motiva Enterprises to commence projects.

Following public hearings involving requests from both companies, the council agreed to abandon a 1.845-acre portion of 53rd Street located north of Texas 73 between Twin City Highway and the Kansas City Southern Railway.

USA Rail Terminals, which owns property adjacent to the location, is planning to establish a rail yard there.

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During a July 21 abandonment hearing with the council, USA Rail Terminals executive vice president Steve Roth assured no loud noises would occur, responding to concerns from councilmembers. The fair market value of the portion of right-of-way to be abandoned was appraised at $54,700.

The city is also granting a 0.4072-acre portion of Terminal Road, north of West 19th Street and east of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, to Motiva. The fair market value was appraised at $16,400.

The refinery, which is undergoing an expansion, requested the abandonment to improve the safety of and restrict driving into plant operations.

In other city business:

  • The Nov. 3 general election for all six council seats and votes on five propositions amending the city charter, the collective sale of Carver Terrace, Civic, Hughen, Barker, Immigrant and Montgomery parks and the donation of one-eighth of a ½-cent sales tax from the Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation toward recreational or facility projects for four years was officially called. Councilmembers on April 7 agreed to reschedule the election from May 2 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The council needed a 4-2 roll-call vote to approve a $25 expense for Mayor Thurman Bartie to participate in a National League of Cities Constituency Group Virtual Summit next week. Councilman Harold Doucet requested the roll call; he and Raymond Scott voted against the approval, while Cal Jones, Thomas Kinlaw III, Charlotte Moses and Bartie voted for it. (Kaprina Frank was absent.)

Doucet questioned why Bartie would attend a second National League of Cities meeting at the city’s expense, when councilmembers agreed to participate in one meeting each for the NLC and Texas Municipal League. Bartie explained the meeting offers training and information for members of the constituency group. Doucet informed Bartie that councilmembers could volunteer on the group at their own expense.

“… If you’re going to be a part of the group, I think you should also function as an intricate member of these groups,” Bartie said. “With my interactions with the powers that be in the organization, I was asked to do it. It wasn’t that I wanted to do it, but it allows Port Arthur to be some city among 1,900 to be nationally recognized because its mayor would be part of the group.”

Doucet responded that NLC leaders seek volunteers rather than ask anyone in particular to serve. He added information from similar meetings is later disseminated to all members of the NLC.

  • A contract with Maguire Iron Inc. of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for construction-phase services of the West Port Arthur Road elevated storage tank was terminated and a new contract was awarded to A&M Construction & Utilites Inc. of Rowlett. The contract is worth $635,800.

City officials say the tank is out of service and in violation of Texas Commission on Environmental Quality regulations, for which the city has been cited. They add McGuire Iron was not able to fulfill its contract in time and had not mobilized on the project as of July 6 when the official start date was May 18.

  • The Port Arthur Police Department accepted a $500 donation toward the purchase of a Vuze VR 3-D Imaging Camera from the Concerned Citizens of Griffing Park.
  • Kevin Alvarenga was named to the Citizen’s Pipeline Advisory Committee.

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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