Site near auditorium proposed for emergency operations center

Merlin Boudreaux III speaks at Tuesday's Morgan City council meeting.
(The Daily Review Photo by Zachary Fitzgerald)


Port of Morgan City officials are looking to use a piece of property on La. 182 next to the Morgan City Municipal Auditorium to build its $9.3 million government emergency operations center and hope to break ground on the project in July, Port Director Raymond “Mac” Wade said at Tuesday’s city council meeting.
State Sen. Bret Allain, R-Franklin, has secured the port a $7 million grant in state capital outlay money, Wade said. The port will put up $2.3 million in matching funds. The center is projected to be 32,500 square-feet.
Wade said the project is on a fast track, but a final decision still needs to be made on where the center will be built.
Port of Morgan City Attorney Gerard Bourgeois said the port is looking at a piece of property adjacent to the Morgan City Municipal Auditorium. M C Bank owns about an acre at the site, and the city has 75 feet of highway frontage on La. 182, he said.
M C Bank is in favor of selling that property along with another landowner who owns property in that area, Bourgeois said.
The council expanded the agenda to introduce an ordinance allowing the city and the port to enter into a cooperative endeavor agreement for the port to turn over that property on La. 182 by the auditorium for its operations center.
The ordinance will be up for a public hearing at April’s city council meeting and could then be adopted.
“This will fit the bill for what we need. And it would be a tremendous win for the port and the city. It’s a win-win for everybody,” Wade said.
The port would in turn provide work of equal value to the city in exchange for the port’s use of the property, Bourgeois said.
Wade said that commensurate work could be additional parking, road work or another project.
Port officials are having to reconfigure the plans for the center due to changing the potential site. They originally had plans to put the center between Victor II Boulevard and David Drive, but that deal fell through, Wade said.
The best place to put the center is next to the auditorium because during an emergency that is the place where everything is centered around already, Wade said.
The emergency operations center will allow multiple government agencies to be under the same roof and can serve as an emergency command center during a hurricane, Wade said.
Wade hopes to break ground by July, assuming the proposed ordinance and cooperative endeavor agreement with the city goes according to plan, he said. The projected completion date of the center is May 2015.
In other business, Morgan City resident Merlin Boudreaux III, who lives in Lakeside subdivision, said he has a problem with the city’s curbside trash pickup service. Boudreaux said he put trash to get picked up on a tarp on the side of the road and ended up with ruts in his yard.
Boudreaux called during four different weeks to get curbside trash service, and the truck left gouges in his yard when it picked up the trash, he said.
“It’s not just in our area. It’s all over Morgan City. And it’s becoming a real, major, major problem,” Boudreaux said. “We should not be sitting in a city full of trash. This is too beautiful of a city.”
Mayor Frank “Boo” Grizzaffi said he recognizes the problem with getting trash picked up and leaving ruts in people’s yards. The city is trying to address those issues, he said.
Boudreaux said the city has more employees call in sick than any other place he knows of. “If they called in sick like that in my company that I work for that I manage, I’d have to fire them,” Boudreaux said.
Councilman Louis Tamporello said though the city could fire workers who do not show to work, certified garbage truck drivers are hard to find. Tamporello hopes the city does start doing a better job with trash collection, he said.
Boudreaux said he also had an issue with getting water, sewer, gas and electrical lines marked properly on his property. Boudreaux was six feet away from hitting an electrical line while digging in the ground when someone told him he was about to hit the line, he said. Boudreaux then had to go to City Hall to ensure the electrical lines were properly marked, he said.
Morgan City Utilities Director Bill Cefalu told Boudreaux that the subdivision lines were run by independent contractors, Boudreaux said.
Grizzaffi said he would have to investigate as to whose responsibility it is to mark each type of line. “I would think the city would have some responsibility for marking the city’s line,” Grizzaffi said.
In other business, the council:
—Approved the East St. Mary Relay for Life request to have the city’s noise ordinance lifted on the night of April 12 for the event scheduled to take place at the Morgan City Municipal Auditorium.
—Approved the Bayou BBQ Bash holding the 3rd annual Bayou BBQ Bash under the U.S. bridge in Morgan City July 19 and approved street closures in the vicinity from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
—Approved the finance committee’s recommendations to amend the library budget to accept a donation from the H&B Young Foundation, and to allocate $12,362.78 from the recreation fund balance to purchase ballpark bleachers and benches.
—Approved a resolution to declare three garbage trucks surplus equipment.
—Approved an ordinance to change the zoning designation of 6214 La. 182 and 1015 Everett St. from residential to commercial property.

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