Taft school demolished, officials talk about land’s future use

Published 12:04 am Sunday, May 12, 2024

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The remains of Taft Elementary School are slowly disappearing with each blow from heavy equipment.

Located at 2500 Taft Avenue in Port Arthur, the school was part of the Port Neches-Groves Independent School District from 1965 until it was closed in 2023, when the district opened new schools.

The school district deeded the land in September to Jefferson County Drainage District No. 7.

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Phil Kelley, DD7 manager, said they are grateful to the district for the land, which is going to be used to aid drainage with the construction of a detention pond.

D7 funded the cost of the demolition, which came in at approximately $250,000, while the appraised value is just more than $500,000.

“It’s a win-win for both of us,” Kelley said.

DD7 is looking at using the land for hazardous mitigation grants through the federal government in connection with Hurricane Harvey.

Simply stated, DD7 must prove the need for the detention pond. This includes studies, research and data to calculate a benefit-to-cost ratio, Kelley said.

The Taft property is just less than 10 acres, but a larger piece of land would likely be needed. That piece is approximately 35 acres and is owned by Total.

In addition there are other similar grants that would fund the drainage ditch.