Port solicits bids for boat launch
MORGAN CITY — The Morgan City Harbor and Terminal District agreed on Tuesday to solicit bids for its boat launch behind the port facilities, but will hold the bids for 45 days while they wait on federal approval to use Port Security Grant Program monies for the project.
The boat launch — along with a boat shed and guard shack — will be paid using $399,000 in combined monies from the 2009 Port Security Grant Program as well as about $98,000 the port will contribute. The launch only will be available for government authorities’ use.
Local grant writer Mike Knobloch, who is handling the work for the port, said that while the port can bid the project out, it cannot spend any monies on the project until the Department of Homeland Security sends the port a letter of authorization to proceed.
Also pending are preliminary investment justifications, which have been submitted to the federal government, as well as field review comments from the U.S. Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Unit in Morgan City. These Coast Guard responses should be complete by Sept. 21.
Because the port’s project involves “disturbing the soil,” Knobloch said the Port had to submit documentation and obtain an “Environmental and Historic Preservation Certificate.”
The budget for the project already has been approved as well as permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources as well as support in a letter from the Corps’ Real Estate Division, Knobloch said.
He said those permits have been sent to Washington, D.C.
“It should not take them long for them to do it since it’s just a boat ramp,” he said of the environmental and historic preservation review. “There’s nothing historical about the property there. It’s just a matter of turning dirt.”
While they can’t spend any monies on the project or start any work on site until the review is complete, the port can go out for bid on the project.
The $399,000 for the port also will include monies for all-terrain vehicles for security and will pay for some work on risk management and mitigation planning, too.
The port security grant monies are part of a larger $560,663 allocation given to the port, which will be divided up among the St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Morgan City Police and Fire departments and the Berwick Police Department, and also used to purchase equipment.
While the port will put up about $98,000 in matching funds in the grant, these other agencies will make up the remainder of the $184,321 in local match that is required.
Knobloch also touched on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Discretionary Grant Program, or TIGER program. The port has until Oct. 3 to submit its pre-application documentation. The final application is due by Oct. 31.
The port, like it did in 2010, will request funds for the design and construction of various infrastructures within the port area similar to the Port’s 2010 application. Since there is an 80/20 match requirement and the port’s work is estimated to cost $15 million, the port will have to fund $3 million of it.
If it chooses, the port could request a waiver for the TIGER funding — it didn’t last year — and Knobloch said if it doesn’t request a waiver, there is a better chance of receiving funds for the project.
Last year, Knobloch said the port met nearly all of the requirements for the grant and this year’s proposal would be tweaked to strengthen the port’s application.
In other news, the commission:
—Learned from the Morgan City U.S. Coast Guard Unit’s Captain of the Port, Jonathan Burton, that work is continuing for removing a barge from the Charenton Canal. He said essentially the barge is upright and they are salvaging it while working to get it to float. He said essentially the waterway now is open to navigation. While the Coast Guard hopes the barge can be floated from the area, if it cannot by certified as water tight, it will have to be scraped on site.
Burton also reported that storm surge from Tropical Storm Lee overturned a barge in Bayou Shaffer. While it did cause some pollution, it has been mitigated and boom is around the structure, he said. Unlike the Charenton Canal structure, he doesn’t anticipate any problems having the structure removed. He also said that the water level in Morgan City reached 7-foot mark during the Labor Day weekend, and there was a backwater flow in the river of up to 2 knots because of the weather conditions.
—Elected Jerry Gauthier president of the Port Commission, Greg Aucoin vice president, and Matt Ackel secretary. The changes were made after commission President Raymond “Mac” Wade resigned his spot on the port commission. The port also approved signatories on bank accounts with the changes.
—Learned from port Treasurer Deborah Garber that the port will see if reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency or other insurance is applicable for piping destroyed under the dock after the water came up at the dock during this spring’s high water.
—Learned from port Manager of Economic Development Cindy Cutrera that she has completed class requirements for an Economic Development certification with the state. She now has to write a paper to complete the requirements. Cutrera and port Administrative Assistant Tori Henry also gave a presentation at the Bayou Industrial Group meeting on Monday.
—Awarded engineering of the port’s parking lot and canopy project to GSE Associates and instructed them to go out for bid. Clay Breaud of GSE said plans and specs should be done by the end of the week and the port probably would be able to award bids in November.
—Renewed Knobloch Professional Services’ contract and expanded his duties to help the port when necessary.
—Agreed to Payment Application 5 for $316,779 for the InterMoor project.
—Tabled an executive session regarding security and TIGER funding until October’s meeting.