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CARL PARKER — Blight v. Pride in Port Arthur

While reviewing my Facebook, I have noted posts describing Port Arthur as a dying city. Port Arthur is not dying, but it does have some serious ailments.

We are losing population and investment is slow. Too much of our town is smeared by blight. The appearance of a city has a lot to do with growth and investment.

Too much blight is an indicator of lack of pride in one’s hometown. A recent ride around the older part of town revealed far too many properties that should be cited for code violations or buildings which should have been torn down long ago.

A recent statistical report indicated that in the past year or so there have been approximately 250 code violation complaints filed. Of these, less than half resulted in any court action.

On my recent tour mentioned above, I am certain that I could count more than 250 violations in about an hour’s time.
Our city council should take a day-long bus tour of our town. They should take staff responsible for code enforcement. It might be a good idea to include in such a trip a member of the zoning board, our city judge and prosecutor.
Though difficult, installing pride among citizens can be done. No one wants to tell their neighbors to pick up trash, move junk cars from the front yards or mow their lawns.

Just as well, no one wants to live next door to a junk yard.

Forming neighborhood groups could go a long way in helping to clean up our city. A properly worded letter from a neighborhood group might motivate neighbors to clean and maintain their properties.

Organized neighborhood groups could also motivate city officials to act to maintain the beauty of Port Arthur.
Another indicator of pride is how many citizens take part in governing themselves.

We should all be ashamed of the turn out in the recent city, school board and port elections. Only a small fraction of qualified voters chose to participate in the election of our leaders.

You can be assured that leaders will be no more concerned than those who put them in office.
We have just recently voted substantial funds to improve parts of our park areas. To do so without addressing growing blight is like putting fancy earrings on pigs.

We should all remember that a shoddy neighborhood property reduces the values of our own.

Port Arthur City Council is discussing the placement of attractive monuments at various locations where you can enter the Port Arthur city limits. Before we spend money on showy monuments, we should be concerned about what folks see as they drive into Port Arthur.

Port Arthur will only die if we let it.

Carl Parker is a former Texas state representative and state senator from Port Arthur. He can be reached at bdparker@gt.rr.com.