Morgan City port nears agreement on operator

MORGAN CITY, La. — The Port of Morgan City is one step closer to finalizing a deal with a new terminal operator.

Commissioners of the Morgan City Harbor & Terminal District voted to allow President Jerry Gauthier, who was absent from Wednesday night’s monthly meeting due to a hunting trip, to be the sole signatory of the deal once it is finalized.

At September’s meeting, the commission announced that a tentative deal had been struck with Inmobiliaria Lamol LLC, a new subsidiary of Grupo Lamol SA de CV, a Mexican company with businesses in the United States, which had been created to assume operation of the port as early as this month.

“The commission is in the process of renegotiating certain portions of the existing lease with the Young Foundation,” Greg Aucoin, commission vice-president, said.

Attorneys from the port, Inmobiliaria Lamol, and the H&B Young Foundation, which owns the land that the port leases, are working on the final details of the lease agreement. Inmobiliaria Lamol would replace Cenac Offshore as the port’s terminal operator and is expected to increase business at the port.

“The lease has been prepared, and it’s the same basic lease as the Cenac lease,” port attorney Gerard Bourgeois said. “There is a reduced rent of $10,000 per month for the first six months. After the first six months, it goes back to the rate that Cenac was paying of $53,225.”

After the meeting, Bourgeois spoke more on his thoughts on the deal.

“Honestly, it’s the first best shot that we’ve had at a real shipper in a long time. We’ve all heard the economic development reports that each ship is supposed to bring in $80,000 to the economy each trip. This is real economic development,” he said.

Bourgeois said that the port commissioners hope that Inmobiliaria Lamol will help the port achieve the vision it had for itself.

“That’s the hope. It’s one of the main functions of the port, and I don’t want to put too much on their backs, but we’re hoping for good things.”

Bourgeois said that Cenac has notified the port that it does not intend to exercise the remainder of its lease.

In other business, Aucoin and architect Carl Blum spoke of a proposed government emergency operations center.

“The concept of the building is sort of a spoke-and-wheel arrangement where there’d be a central entrance, and each of these facilities would radiate from that entrance,” Blum said.

“The building itself would be a hardened building. It would be brick and block exterior walls. There would also be an outdoor marshaling area so that if we are in a disaster situation, we’d have a place for emergency equipment to park and load and unload. In addition to that area, we’d have parking for tenants of the building,” he said.

Blum said that the building would be designed to withstand 150 mph winds and would have “limited openings.”

“The concept is very simple. We want to have a place at which emergency personnel could work in the days after a disaster,” he said.

Blum said that the cost of construction of the building would be about $10 million. With “sitework, fees, studies and surveys,” the total cost would be around $11,435,088, he said.

Aucoin spoke of his desire for the facility.

“This building is a very high priority on our list,” he said. “Unfortunately, the funding is on a wish list.”

State Rep. Joe Harrison spoke about using 2010 BP oil spill settlement money to help fund the facility, and Aucoin asked if the money had been escrowed yet.

“They’re still outlining what may fit into that,” Harrison said.

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Phone: 985-384-8370
Fax: 985-384-4255

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