Monday, January 21, 2019

Commission seeks proposals to study uses for Port Manchac

Posted: Tuesday, January 8, 2019 | Views: 622

Commission seeks proposals to study uses for Port Manchac
PONCHATOULA—-The South Tangipahoa Parish Port Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to request proposals from consultants who will be asked to envision the “highest and best use” for the site now known as “Port Manchac.”

At the suggestion of Commissioner Bill Joubert from the Southeastern Small Business Development Center, the six-member board voted unanimously to seek proposals from outside consultants after the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office issued an opinion that the commission can enter into a lease for the port property.

Joubert said a study would be invaluable to the commission, especially after a private developer asked the board to consider leasing the port property. That developer, Terry Jones, reiterated his request on Tuesday; however, after much public input in dissent of that idea, the commission ignored Jones' request and instead turned their attention to Joubert, who posed the question, “What could the port be?”

Joubert said he does not believe the commission is prepared to decide what use would be the best use for the port property at this time.

Port attorney Andre Coudrain said the AG opinion offers the commission some advice on how to proceed but nothing specific. He described the opinion as granting the board “broad authority to inter into a transaction on this property” but noted that while the opinion “gives a pretty blank slate” as to what this port authority can do, it adds the proviso that whatever they do needs to be “in the best interest of the public.”

Coudrain said an option to lease the full tract of property at this time would raise at least a couple issues, including addressing existing contracts with their current tenants and questions about possible reimbursements to be paid to the State for public investment made there.

Commissioner Ernie Drake, III, proposed imposing a deadline for proposals in 45 days. Commission President Daryl Ferrara confirmed that such a move would push the timeline for the possible selection of a consultant into the closing days of February or early March. Joubert said a sample proposal he received for Tuesday’s meeting suggested the scope of the work they are pursuing would take anywhere from two to four months to complete before a final report. The sample proposal Joubert received also suggested that such a study could cost $50-65,000, according to that consultant.

Ferrara said the full board would review the proposals before any vote to spend money or select a consultant would be made.