Yacht club discussion ends, developer granted lease for Port Arthur project

Published 12:20 am Thursday, May 9, 2024

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Just days after the Youth Sailing Days, where Port Arthur Yacht Club brought 12 children and eight adults along for a sailing adventure, members of the 59-year-old organization gathered at city hall in hopes for a positive outcome to a lease issue.

Members of the club addressed council Tuesday in a last ditch bid to keep the buildings they constructed and maintained since 1965.

Brian Meadowcroft, past commodore, said he approached Pleasure Island Director George Davis in Spring 2022 to discuss renewing the lease of the buildings. Discussion led to the drafting of a lease with sides were pleased with and Meadowcroft was reportedly told the lease would be presented to the city manager and city attorney at the time.

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Months passed by, and Meadowcroft was instructed to reach out to the city secretary and attorney to establish the status of the lease.

“Over half a dozen attempts via email and phone calls were ignored. No response, none. No response to my request to determine the status of the lease,” Meadowcroft said during a recent city council meeting. “As of this date, less than five minutes ago, the Port Arthur Yacht Club has not received a formal notice from the city as to our status despite multiple attempts.”

Much has happened since that attempt at renewing the lease, according to members of club and councilmembers.

Councilman Harold Doucet said he was under the impression the yacht club and developer Selim Kiralp would meet and come to an agreement.

“After so many years of maintaining those buildings and the cost and stuff I don’t see why we should up and try to pull the building from under the organization.

After all the years of them maintaining the buildings and paying,” Doucet said.

Councilwoman Tiffany Hamilton Everfield said that on Nov. 7; the council gave approval for leaders to go out for Requests For Proposals for a second time.

At that time there were only two responses; PAYC and Kiralp.

Hamilton Everfield said at that time council gave instruction in the RFP’s they were looking for “for profit” organizations so they can charge the full market rate for the lease of the buildings.

This is in addition to the responding company either selling a service or a product, so the city could benefit from the sales tax.

Councilwoman Doneane Beckcom reminded fellow councilmembers of a discussion during an executive session where they opted to have a workshop and get the yacht club and developer together.

She moved to have both proposals rejected but that bid failed for lack of a second.

Councilman Donald Frank acknowledged the good the yacht club provided for youth and all it has done since 1965 but it was time to move forward for the citizens of the city.

Councilman Thomas Kinlaw III, who was in favor of the developer leasing the property, noted he had never been invited to go to the yacht club while growing up nor has his children, comparing that to Beckcom’s comments on how her family was involved in the island many years ago.

In addition, the people who spoke in favor of the yacht club are not Port Arthur residents.

After much discussion city council voted 4 to 3 in favor of leasing the Yacht Club buildings on Pleasure Island to Kiralp.

He is a Dallas based developer who pitched plans last year to create a $140 million water park on the island.

Councilmembers Frank, Everfield, Kinlaw and Mayor Thurman Bartie were in favor of the developer while Beckcom, Doucet and Willie Bae Lewis were in favor of the yacht club.