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Seeking a Bigger Insurance Claim

Harris County Commissioners are racing against the clock to recover insurance money for Sylvan Beach Pavilion. It suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Ike. Commissioners agreed on an attorney to try and recover money to restore the iconic structure. Pat Hernandez has more.



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Sylvan Beach Pavilion in LaPorte, built in 1956 and made famous because of the big bands that played to patrons as they danced on its circular dance floor, has sat idle since Hurricane Ike did over a million dollars in damage two years ago. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says they’re trying to recover an insurance claim.

“And the insurance company happens to be the Texas Municipal League Risk Pool, which provides an interesting wrinkle to it, because if we win our lawsuits, and that’s money coming out of the Texas Municipal Risk Pool which, ostensibly is available for other cities and local governments.”

The pavilion is located in Commissioner Sylvia Garcia’s precinct.

“For me there was urgency to get something done because the clock is ticking on the statutory deadline to file a lawsuit. The insurance company is not offering us the amount of money that we need to fully restore and repair that building, so we need to do everything we can to ensure that we protect the taxpayers’ interest in that building and that we protect the taxpayers’ interest, and not spend any more money than we need to.”

Harris County Commissioners met in executive session and decided on attorney Marc Hill. Garcia says the court authorized him to sue whoever needs to be sued in order to recover the insurance money for the pavilion.

“We need over a million dollars to just redo and repair. To really bring it back to where it needs to be, probably $4 million, but unless we pursue everything possible under the insurance claim, both FEMA and the Ike recovery dollars won’t come to us.”

Garcia says Harris County’s Infrastructure and Community Services Departments have been working with her in making a case for all the players involved for reimbursement.

“They have to be convinced that we’re doing everything we can on the insurance claim. We’re treated no differently from the home owner here. If you got insurance you’ve got to explore all those options. Then after that, what isn’t covered, then FEMA covers. Then after that, then maybe Ike recovery.”

Earlier this year, the Texas Historical Commission’s volunteer State Board of Review unanimously approved nomination of Sylvan Beach Pavilion to the National Register of Historic Places.

Pat Hernandez, KUHF News.

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