Potential development on Pleasure Island prompts public hearing

Published 4:13 pm Monday, April 4, 2022

The City of Port Arthur on Tuesday will host a public hearing at City Hall to discuss dealings with city-owned land, one zoned as a public park on Pleasure Island.

The move comes after several developers approached officials to inquire about the track of land between Logan Park and Lakefront Park.

“I was told by the city attorney that this is park land, so we need to bring it to the voters,” Pleasure Island Director George Davis said. “Basically, if anybody has any questions about it, they’re willing to ask. A lot of people don’t know we’re interested in selling the land. Some people may want to ask questions or voice concerns.”

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While no specific development has been slated for the land, Davis said the hearing is to clear the way for possibility.

“Having recently become the director here, it’s something I wanted to act on — getting development,” Davis said.

While appointed to oversee the island in August, Davis was splitting time with the Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation. Beginning Oct. 1, he served as interim CEO following the resignation of Floyd Batiste. In late January, Jessica Carpenter was selected to take the position permanently, and began work one month later.

Now with clear focus, Davis is working to improve all parts of the island.

And it’s improvement that has been publically commented on, as island enthusiast Ronnie Moon approached council members last week on the topic.

“I’m on Pleasure Island almost seven days a week for the last 10-15 years,” he said. “For the first time, I see positive movement. You can drive across the Pleasure Island bridge now, and it’s the cleanest I’ve seen it for years.”

Davis thanked his crew for their dedication.

“Whenever you cross this bridge, the first thing you see is all the open land,” he said. “My staff — I credit them — we sat down and discussed a grass cutting schedule. We joke about having it looking like Disneyland. You’ll never catch Disneyland not manicured.”

Moon, who spends a majority of his time on the island picking up trash and talking with fishermen, etc., remarked on road conditions as one area of concern.

Davis, who coordinates often with Moon, said street improvement is underway with more to come.

The area from the Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge to Lakefront Road has been patched, and other streets are on the city’s $60 million capital improvement plan.

“I want the city to be patient with me and just know that, being a Port Arthuran, I’ve always heard that Pleasure Island is a diamond in the rough,” Davis said. “I want that to become a reality for all of the citizens in the community so that people can get back out here.”

Other initiatives include working with the yacht club with various events, and repairing the disc golf course.

“Something as simple as cutting the grass, you start seeing more families out here having picnics and people walking dogs,” Davis said. “I didn’t see that much when I first came out here. We’re just trying to get activity back on the island. That’ll put a smile on everybody’s face.”

The public hearing begins at 10 a.m. Tuesday in City Council Chambers, 444 4th Street.