Once upon a time, Pleasure Island was a gem representing everything good about Port Arthur. Like so many other things in Port Arthur, Pleasure Island has been dealt one devastating blow after another by a declining economic atmosphere and tropical weather disasters.
Yes, Pleasure Island is most definitely an asset belonging to the City of Port Arthur, and is such that development on the Island could once again benefit the community as a hole. However, in dreaming about what Pleasure Island once was, and introducing the idea of trying to relive those happier days once again sidesteps the issues that are preventing Port Arthur from reclaiming a viable economic base to meet the city’s needs.
John Beard, Jr. has an excellent memory of such things past. Remember the fiasco surrounding the KCS locomotive 503?
Beard was among a group of people in Port Arthur who weren’t the least bit happy to learn the city was trying to unload the rusting old locomotive without bothering to tell anyone about it. That was just one facet of the problem. The other that was a preservationist had come into the picture and was willing to purchase the locomotive from the City of Port Arthur for a heckuva lot more money than what the city was getting for it from a recycler. Enter John Beard who initiated a GoFundMe account to collect donations to repair and preserve the aging locomotive. Unfortunately, the donations never even came close to the estimated $400,000 needed to do the job, the preservationist threw in the towel and left town, and the people of Port Arthur now get to feast their eyes on a rusting old locomotive, sitting on special tracks allowing it to be moved while Port Arthur once again tries to satisfy the TCEQ hazmat remediation demands.
Ladies and gentlemen, remembering the past is one thing, but trying to restore physical reminders of the past by bringing them back into being simply doesn’t work. If you want Pleasure Island to be the enjoyable place it was back fifty, sixty or more decades ago, then plan for it before tossing it out in front of the public’s eye without so much as an idea of what it would take to accomplish such a feat. I can assure you that there hasn’t been so much as an ounce of forethought into what it might take to bring this into reality.
The biggest problem I have with this is that it fails to address the primary reasons why any ideas of making Port Arthur a thriving, economically sound, community again are nothing but wishful thinking. Port Arthur refuses to recognize its competing with hundreds of other communities throughout the nation all vying to attract new businesses and industries seeking to relocate or expand. Furthermore, just what is there in Port Arthur that makes it a great place to live? Simply driving around town is enough to demonstrate the blight present at almost every turn. Streets are generally in deplorable condition; some being so bad that even the locals avoid them. The other situation is our crumbling water and sewer systems. Old and outdated, many of the repairs made in years past were supposedly only temporary repairs made with sub-standard materials that saved the city money, but even those are starting to give out now.
Port Arthur is a dirty little community with abandoned, burned out and storm-damaged structures scattered all over the place. Much of the city’s street lights aren’t even on any more. People seldom walk in their neighborhoods any more out of fear of being run over or charged at by hot-rodding vehicles, and crime in this town is so commonplace that hardly anyone raises an eyebrow unless someone they know gets murdered. Port Arthur isn’t the kind of place outsiders will be comfortable in coming to, much less living in. Even after Tropical Storm Harvey as many as 5,000 people who evacuated the storm refused to return. People, that’s sending this community a very clear message that someone is completely ignoring!
Port Arthur needs to wake up. Port Arthur needs to recognize it has to improve and update itself so it can compete for new economic development. Port Arthur needs to keep its memories of happier days, but admit bringing them back isn’t the avenue to rebuilding greatness. Port Arthur needs fresh faces, with fresh ideas, in both city government and administration. Port Arthur needs …