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Board of Trustees of the Galveston Wharves
by Jim Guidry
Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Board of Trustees of the Galveston Wharves on Monday voted unanimously to enter into a lease with the State of Texas for submerged land adjacent to Piers 16-18 and to proceed with a construction contract for renovations to the Del Monte facility.

The wharves board voted unanimously to approve an agreement with the Houston Advanced Research Center to act as a subcontractor for the port to manage and administer a Department of Energy solar research grant project.

The board voted unanimously to approve a $75,000 expenditure to connect Cruise Terminal Parking Lots B and B East.

The board voted unanimously to not allow attorney Stephen R. Lewis, Jr. to represent a client in a lawsuit the port has filed. Listen: MP3  RealPlayer

“Mr. Lewis has represented the port in prior matters,” explained Wharves Board Chair Roland Bassett.  “He has now been requested to serve as local counsel for one of the defendants in the suit that the port as filed against its insurance carriers.”

The board’s vote was to not “waive the conflict” that would have permitted Lewis to represent the defendant in the lawsuit.

The board voted unanimously to authorize Terrell Palmer of First Southwest Company to move forward on refunding of 2008 TID bonds.  Listen: MP3  RealPlayer

Two items were withdrawn from the agendas and were not considered for action by the board.

  • A proposed agreement with PortVision to perform a formal functional analysis of port activities will be considered at a future meeting.
  • A proposed letter of intent with Mexico & Pacific Railroad, LLC to negotiate an option and lease agreement for the 185 acre port-owned tract on the northeast corner of Pelican Island will be considered at a future meeting.

Port attorney Hulse Wagner discussed the recent review of the Port of Houston Authority by Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan at the request of Wharves Board Chair Roland Bassett to determine whether any of his recommendations apply to the Port of Galveston.  Listen: MP3  RealPlayer

Wagner also discussed “ethical obligations” of public officers and employees at the request of the board.

Port staff was asked to review forms that the city requires for board appointees and present it to the board for review at the next meeting.

The board voted 6-0-1, with City Council Member Dianna Puccetti abstaining, to ratify an earlier vote by the Galveston Port Facilities Corporation authorizing the port director, in conjunction with legal counsel to “take all action reasonable and necessary with respect to the Shearn Moody Parking Garage”.  Puccetti had also abstained on the item at the GPFC meeting.

Port Director Steve Cernak reported that operating revenues of the port during the month of August were $1,520,483. Listen: MP3  RealPlayer

“This is compared to an original budgeted amount of $1,734,914 or $214,431 under budget,” Cernak said.  “A large part of the variance is based on accrual rates for supplemental rent, specifically to the Gulf Copper facility.  We received notification that their prior estimate that was provided to us earlier was no longer valid and they were downgrading that amount of money.”  

Cernak reported that the port's website and "social/web based media" received awards from the American Association of Port Authorities.

The board voted unanimously to accept Cernak’s report.

All other agenda items were approved with unanimous votes, with Benny Holland absent.

During a meeting of the Finance Committee before the wharves board meeting, Finance Director
Mark Murchison reported the conversion to an electronic payroll system and on his audit of cruise ship parking operations.
Listen: MP3  RealPlayer

“We are up and running,” Murchison said, noting that the electronic system was mandated by the board.  “We’re there.”

He said staff performed random car counts at the cruise ship parking lots in August.

“We found no variance between the counts that were submitted by Ampco…and what we counted,” Murchison said.

Former wharves board member Charlotte O’Rourke said she was impressed with Murchison’s report. Listen: MP3  RealPlayer

During the meeting of the Port Facilities Corporation, members of the wharves board recognized Baywatch Dolphin Tour Captain Blake Eubanks for his part in removing a suspicious fisherman in a boat beneath Pier 10. Listen: MP3  RealPlayer

“Our officers responded to the scene and we could not get him out and ultimately called the Coast Guard,” reported Port Police Chief Bob Pierce.  “The Coast Guard came out and managed to get him out.”

The next meeting of the wharves board will be at 9 a.m. on Monday October 24.

Remembering Jim Guidry Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership

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