Preserve Path Forward

By Mary Henkel Judson
January 31, 2018

Negative events can have positive consequences.

Hurricane Harvey is one of the worst things ever to happen to Port Aransas, and yet, some good things have, and will, come of it.

Some families’ homes were completely destroyed by the hurricane, with the added bonus of raw sewage that flowed throughout. Today, some of these families have rebuilt and the homes they have ended up with are nicer than they were before Harvey devastated them.

That’s a silver lining behind the dark cloud of Harvey.

The same is true for some businesses, a few of which have relocated to better quarters than they had BH (Before Harvey). That, too, is a silver lining.

In some instances, Harvey amounted to a cleanup crew for areas in sore need of attention.

That’s another silver lining.

If we play our cards right, there’s at least one more silver lining to Hurricane Harvey, and that is the preservation and/or restoration of Old Town. Harvey has given us an opening to address changes in our architectural landscape that are not in keeping with, or compatible to, the Port Aransas to which many are native and others of us have called home for decades.

PAPHA (Port Aransas Preservation and Historical Association) has formed a committee to come up with recommended ordinances for the city council that will encourage new construction to conform with the existing look of Old Town, and methods to reward restoration of older buildings instead of demolishing them The concern is that some buildings that are demolished as a result of the storm will be replaced with buildings that are out of character with the buildings that make Old Town a historically significant area of town. The example, used by PAPHA in the story by news editor Dan Parker that starts on Page 1A, is Castaways. The restaurant at the corner of Alister and Beach streets was torn down (and is relocating to where The Phoenix was). The land is for sale, and the fear is that a Dollar General type building could be built there. Those buildings are generally faceless “boxes” of corrugated metal with few windows, flat roofs and little to no landscaping. Preventing that kind of construction, or buildings of a size that are grossly incompatible with their neighbors, is one of the goals of this committee.

Part of the philosophy of PAPHA’s Old Town Committee is to “enhance our livability, stabilize our neighborhoods and hopefully foster small business formation and create jobs.” It concludes, “This is a way to the future, not a path to the past.”

That’s a good philosophy and we encourage the community and city council to embrace it going forward.

Mary Henkel Judson is editor and co-publisher of the South Jetty. Contact her at, (361) 749-5131 or P.O. Box 1117, Port Aransas, TX 78373.