See what’s next as Port Arthur takes next step in developing former St. Mary site

Published 6:15 am Tuesday, May 31, 2022

The Port Arthur City Council last week authorized the approval of a contract with a Houston-based company to develop a master plan for the city’s new animal shelter, as well as other anticipated facilities.

Port Arthur will be partnering with PGAL, Inc. in regards to the shelter, a recreation center and other city facilities that will be located at the former site of St. Mary Hospital.

“I remember this vision you had about two years ago,” Councilman Thomas Kinlaw told City Manager Ron Burton during last week’s council meeting. “We were in your office and you were saying when they were going to talk about…that area, you’re talking about a master multi-phase plan, and we’re at that point about 2.5 years later.

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“I want to give you kudos on that because you stuck to your word on it. For me to be in that office with you and you talked about a vision back then, that’s something we need in this city.”

A worker walks across what was once the parking lot area of St. Mary Hospital as demolition work goes on behind him in 2020. (Mary Meaux/The News)

Burton said the outlined plane should be back to city leaders within 90 days.

“What I want to do here is to ensure that I provide you with the schematics so that you — not only you, but the public — could actually see how we’re going to put to use the 15 acres, to maximize its use and to maximize the development,” Burton told council. “I want the public to have a very good grasp.”

The city in April announced it began a feasibility study on the site after the land previously marked for a new animal shelter was deemed unusable.

During a needs assessment study, it was discovered the former water treatment facility had four 10-feet concrete walls buried under the ground.

One of the stipulations for the new animal shelter is it be built on city-owned property.

St. Mary Hospital closed in June 2019 and was eventually demolished.

In May 2021, the land, which was originally donated by two Port Arthur residents for the hospital, was gifted back to the city.

The construction of a new animal shelter is part of a $32.9 million capital improvement project in which $9.9 was allocated to the shelter and the Port Arthur Public Health Department, which will soon be relocated to 9th Avenue.

Built in 1978, the current animal shelter on 4th Street can house 30 animals with an additional 16 kennels used for overcrowding.

The master plan that will now be under development cannot cost more than $41,500, according to the resolution.