Port operator is out



MORGAN CITY — Inmobilaria Lamol is officially no longer the port operator after Port of Morgan City officials let the company out of its lease Monday in exchange for forfeiting its security deposits.

Port officials signed the documents to let Inmobilaria Lamol out of its lease, which was the least expensive way to resolve the matter, Port of Morgan City attorney Gerard Bourgeois said. The port would not have gotten much else if they pursued legal action, Bourgeois said.

The company gave up its $106,550 in security deposits.

Inmobilaria Lamol did not pay its July rent of $53,225 at the port and was sent a letter of default July 8, but did not respond by the July 28 deadline.

Port officials are actively looking for “someone else to occupy the premises,” Morgan City Harbor and Terminal District Commission President Jerry Gauthier said Monday at the commission’s monthly meeting.

“We’ve been in discussion with a couple groups. One sounds very serious. It’s just discussions at this point. We’ve got a long way to go,” Gauthier said.

Port of Morgan City Executive Director Jerry Hoffpauir said, “We do have an offer that we’re exploring for another operator, and hopefully something should be firmed up within the month.”

When the port signs a lease agreement with a new port operator, the company will then be responsible for all operations at the port, Hoffpauir said.

A company representative from one of the companies the port has been in talks with spoke during the meeting. Ryan Hess of GCTNL, a company port officials have met with, said, “Currently, we’re in discussions with various customers to move various commodities between the port here.”

The direct impact to the community could include another 15 to 20 long-term jobs at the facility, Hess said. The company runs ships to Mexico and the Dominican Republic, Hess said.

Hess said he would like to sit down with port officials to discuss the details. “We’re ready to move forward,” he said.

The company has a couple requests of how the port could help in potential capital improvements on the property in addition to improvements the company would be prepared to put in place now, Hess said.

Hess said the company is prepared to enter into a similar agreement with the port as Inmobilaria Lamol did when it became the tenant.

At its Monday meeting, the commission approved a resolution of support for Nicholls State University’s maritime management program. Morgan City Harbor and Terminal District Commissioner Scott Melancon proposed the commission pass the resolution. So far, 22 students have enrolled in the program, Melancon said.

Maritime management is offered as a concentration right now, but the next step is to make it a major, Melancon said. “This is the white collar side of maritime (industry). It’s not infringing on what we’re doing at Young Memorial,” Melancon said.

Cameras and a radar system to monitor the port have been installed, Port Special Projects Coordinator Mike Knobloch said. The security guard station should be complete by the end of the week, Knobloch said. The funding for the projects came from the fiscal year 2009 port security grant.

The project partnership agreement between the port and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is under review at the assistant secretary of the army’s office, Sarah Nash of the Corps of Engineers said. The corps is looking to finish the project partnership agreement in September, she said.

The corps could then award the contract for the Crewboat Cut project on Sept. 19, and the project should be finished by the end of the year, Nash said.

The project involves putting down rocks in the Crewboat Cut in the Atchafalaya River to keep the sediment from flowing back into the cut that the corps is trying to open up.

In other business, the commission:

—Approved Hoffpauir to sign a contract not to exceed $8,600 to restore power to the east station.

—Accepted the proposed fiscal year 2013-14 budget.

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