Port negotiates director contract; marina opposed

West St. Mary Port commissioners authorized President Tad Blevins to enter into a contract with a new executive director Tuesday during the commissions regular monthly meeting.

Blevins has served as executive director since the retirement of Phil Prejean two years ago.

Former commissioner David Allain resigned from the board around that time and has been serving as an uncompensated assistant to Blevins for two years.

Under Louisiana ethics laws for public officials, after two years Allain is allowed to enter into employment for the port.

The board’s action allows Blevins to enter into the contract that would make Allain executive director effective Jan. 1. The contract is for two years.

Also Tuesday, the commission approved a resolution strongly opposing the opening of a recreational marina on private property on the port channel.

The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources received an application from John A. Tesvich, of Buras, for a coastal use permit to build the marina on Sunrise Road along the channel. It would have about 50 boat slips, covered and uncovered, and dock space, according to the permit application.

All port tenants are opposed to the venture, Blevins said, and both Twin Brothers Marine and D&L Salvage have made comments to DNR in opposition.

Allain said the waterway comes under the port’s jurisdiction.

“We’re in a heavy industrial area,” commissioner Wayne Stephens said. “We can’t afford for them to be there…this isn’t a pleasure port. It’ll kill us if we let them in there. We won’t have any new people looking at that place.”

The proposed marina is right across from Twin Brothers Marine. “The first time you get a drop of paint on one of these $200,000 boats, (Twin Brothers) will have to get lawyers,” Stephens said.

Cameron Webster, co-owner of Twin Brothers Marine, said his business would move if the marina is built

“We can’t trade 300 jobs for two or three jobs,” Stephens said.

Legal counsel Eric Duplantis said safety would be the major concern. “The people who work there now understand the significance of having work boats in the area. To introduce a private marina, to share the space with them, these people will not be as familiar with each other…you don’t know who’s going to be coming in and out of this facility. They may not be experienced, may be there every once in a while, may have people with them who are not familiar with operating those boats.”

Webster said the port canal is “not that large. We’re having trouble with the fishermen, the crabbers, in the port right now. The no-wake zone that does not exist. Somebody’s going to get drowned out there…we don’t want to shut the crabbers down or the marina down.”

He said if an accident occurs on the waterway, “they’re looking for whoever has the deepest pockets.”

Webster said two larger boats passing each other in the channel is already a tight fit. “You get a small boat coming in there…they’re going to get their boats bumped,” he said. “There’s no question about what’s going to happen.”

None of the facilities on the port site would be able to operate in a recreational facility environment, Webster said.

“We would have no choice but to relocate somewhere else,” he said.

The commission approved the resolution in opposition, which will be forwarded to DNR.

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