Port of South Louisiana plans to build new office in Reserve

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 26, 2005


Managing Editor

LAPLACE — The Port of South Louisiana commission voted Wednesday to hire an architect to design a new administrative building.

Charles Meyer of Meyer Engineers Ltd. of Metairie, was approved in a split vote, with Gregory Gravois and Louis Joseph voting no and Lawrence Jackson abstaining. Voting in favor were Joey Murray, Bill Hubbard, Jay Roberts and Sheila Bonnette.

Executive Director Joel Chaisson commented that Hurricane Katrina highlighted the need for one central office for the port. The current administrative office at 171 Belle Terre Blvd., was built in 1977 with about 5,400 square feet. However, other offices are in Reserve, including the Globalplex office.

Chaisson said he is hoping to build a central office to end duplication of personnel and office equipment, to be located in Reserve and possibly resemble the current First National Bank USA building on Belle Terre, with 7,500 to 10,000 square feet.

A $2.5 million budget is already set up for the project, but Meyer said he plans for the project to come in at less cost, including his standard 8 percent architect’s fee.

Deputy Director Henry Sullivan and Commissioner Lawrence Jackson reported on their recent visit to Dakar, Senegal in West Africa.

The trade mission was undertaken to plan trade agreements for oil and phosphates under a “sister port” agreement. More than a dozen neighboring African nations are hoping to channel their oil and phosphate exports to Dakar, which will develop an oil port, directed at South Louisiana.

Committal letters were exchanged, and the commission empowered Chaisson to negotiate a “sister port” agreement with the Senegalese government.

“They feel South Louisiana is an ideal place to do business,” Sullivan said. “The opportunities are there.”

Jackson also strongly urged the sister port agreement, and the commission unanimously approved the authorization.

In Chaisson’s regular report, he related how the port security vessels assisted in the New Orleans riverfront warehouse fire and also transported vital relief supplies for the city stricken by Katrina. The fireboat also stood by while Valero refinery re-started in Norco on Sept. 5.

The port will also be receiving $880,000 in the port security grant program for another port security vessel, Chaisson announced, and said there is currently a great demand for warehouse space from businesses displaced by the storm.