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Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. A cold start for this morning. But sunny skies lead to lower 60's this afternoon. Warmer over the weekend, and a slight chance of showers will move back in on Sunday.

 

 

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The following is an archived video story. The text content of that video story is available below for reference. The original video has been deleted and is no longer available.

Sides face off about proposed water park and hotel at Ford Park

JEFFERSON COUNTY-By Jennifer Gordy
Is the proposed water park and hotel at ford park a good idea for the City of Beaumont and Jefferson County?  There are those with very strong opinions for and against the project and both sides say they have the numbers to back it up. Beaumont City Councilman, W.L. Pate, is opposed to the project and says,"Everybody wants a water park, but do we have to have a hotel?" Pate voted against moving forward on the project. Pate says the demand is not there for another hotel in Jefferson County and Bill Bianchi, the President of the Golden Triangle Hotel Association agrees. Bianchi says, "Over the last 5 to 6 years, there's been a 30-35% increase in hotel properties, hotel rooms if you will, in Jefferson County that, coupled with the economy, the way it's been the last few years has reduced occupancy rates and average rates paid at the hotels." Pate and Bianchi feel the addition of a hotel with tax incentives not offered to existing hotels will increase glut of rooms further decreasing the average room rate charged. "When there's  government supported if you will or county and city supported that gives them a 20% advantage over hotels that are paying the taxes. Yeah, that's a concern." Bianchi says. While the hotel association says occupancy rates have been falling for years in Jefferson County, County Judge Jeff Branick has data indicating a new hotel could bring the rates up in our area. Branick says, "The case studies that show new convention type hotels of this nature going in to communities as they have in Lewisville, Lubbock and San Marcos that during the 5 year period after a new hotel of this nature goes in, there is actually an increase in hotel occupancy and all of the top tier hotels and the only hotels that suffer when we have a new hotel come in are those that are at the very bottom, that you don't want around anyway." Pate says, "There's a world of difference in what's going on in San Marcos and what's going on here.  We have not grown as fast as other areas of Texas.  Branick says, "The county has a significant asset out there that belongs to the taxpayers. So anything that we can do to make that more valuable and make a better return to the tax payers, we need to do that." The incentive to build a hotel and water park at ford park? No taxes for the developer and a good deal to lease county owned land.

 

 

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