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Port Arthur voters approve $3M parks/senior center improvement. Now what?

Port Arthur voters left no doubt Saturday when 77.8 percent said “yes” to a proposition aimed at improving parks and recreation areas.

The ballot item called for changes to two city parks and the Recreation and Senior Citizens Center, paid for by the reallocation of $3 million in sales tax revenue split into $1 million each year for three years.

“The voters approved the actual proposition; so now we will look into actually securing renderings, having meetings and finding out exactly what citizens may want in those places,” said Director of Parks and Recreation Chandra Alpough. “We will be (getting) information and feedback from citizens.”

A plan for Adams Park, Rose Hill Park and the recreation center was presented to the City Council in mid-April. However, Alpough said, there are still some uncertainties as far as the final plan and the timeline of when construction will start.

“We won’t have access to the funds until Oct. 1,” she said. “We plan to start vigorously in getting this process done. A lot of things come in to play.”

The plan brought before the council included:

  • Adding a multi-sport complex, adding concession and restroom facilities, adding shaded event seating, upgrading to competition-level fields, improving the irrigation systems, adding athletic field lighting, a walking trail, a soccer complex and a cricket field to Adams Park, located at 3401 S. Sgt. Lucian Adams Drive. The 47-acre park already has three baseball fields, one football field, four softball fields, a tennis court, a playground and a pavilion.
  • Adding a walking trail, family picnic areas, game tables, inclusive park features, portable bleachers and a stage, a multi-use field, a covered pavilion and changes to the parking area at Rose Hill Park, located at 200 Woodworth Blvd. The 15-acre park currently has a tennis court, adult exercise system, soccer goals and a playground.
  • Updating code and American Disabilities Act compliance, upgrading restrooms and locker rooms, modernizing the facility, additional workout rooms, adding a teen room, renovating the pool area and improving parking at the Recreation and Senior Citizens Center. Located at 1308 9th Avenue, the 20,000 square-foot facility was formerly home to the Port Arthur YMCA. But there is a possibility that it could be rebuilt instead of renovated.

“We did a structural analysis on the recreation center, and it’s still structurally sound,” Alpough said of the facility built in the 1960s.

The reason the department singled-out these particular locations was due to location.

“Rose Hill Park is one of the gateways to the downtown area,” the director said of the park located near Memorial High School. “It has a lot of things near it. Adams Park already has so many elements. It’s in a part of town where everything is accessible — restaurants are coming up and hotels. It’s an ideal place to have tournaments.”

Mayor Thurman Bartie joined her in that sentiment.

“The enhancements will do something for us economically,” he said. “We’ll be able to host some of those (sports) event. We should be at least accommodating to the attendees and the teams.”

Bartie was also excited about the renovations to the downtown park, which has become a hub of development.

“I think we have a lot of traffic in that area,” he said, “even further enhancing that park does more for our city. We have to begin somewhere, and I extend gratitude to the voters for allowing that.”

While the two parks and rec center specifically were named in the proposition, other parks will get upgrades.

“We’re not just focusing on those three,” Alpough said.