The Board of Trustees of the Galveston Wharves today today voted unanimously to name David Morgan as its choice for the position of Deputy Port Director and to offer him an annual salary of $158,000.
"He is currently a senior vice president for Ports America in Savannah, Georgia," said Port Director Michael Mierzwa who recommended Morgan to the wharves board from a field of five candidates. "Considering where we are going in the future with respect to development of the port, we have some economic development opportunities to develop not only properties over on Pelican Island but potentially properties at the west end of the port and I need someone to assist me as we go ahead that's going to be able to be part of the negotiations for these concessions agreements that has an understanding of the industry and what we should be getting as the proper value for these properties as they get developed and I thought Dave Morgan brought that to the table with his industry experience." Listen
The wharves board voted unanimously to amend the port’s contract with CH2M HILL relating to a conceptual study for the Homeport Turnaround at the Port of Galveston to facilitate the docking of three cruise ships simultaneously. The amendment, which also was approved by the Galveston Port Facilities Corporation in a meeting before the wharves board meeting, increases the contract amount by $20,000 to produce drawings that would allow the port to obtain the necessary permits from the United States Army Corps of Engineers for the project.
The wharves board voted unanimously to approve an operating agreement between the GPFC and Magical Cruise Company, doing business as Disney Cruise Line, for operations at Cruise Ship Terminal 2.
The wharves board took no action on a proposed agreement for security services at the cruise terminals with McRoberts Protective Agency, Inc. The item was withdrawn and will be considered for action at the September meeting.
A proposed amendment to a lease with the State of Texas related to the extension of Pier 16 was withdrawn from the agenda and was not considered for action.
All other agenda items were approved unanimously with all members present. Agenda
In his Port Director's Report, Mierzwa reported to the wharves board that operating revenues for July were $1,760,903, which is $195,483 under budget; and operating expenses for July of $1,232,728 which were under budget by $124,002. Listen
The wharves board recognized former trustees Dianna Puccetti and John Tindel for their service on the board.
Dr. William Merrell of Texas A&M University at Galveston made a presentation on the Ike Dike, a coastal storm surge protection barrier he has proposed for the Houston/Galveston Region. Listen
“Essentially, this is a proposal for regional approach to surge protection,” Merrell said, explaining that extension of the protection offered by the Galveston Seawall from High Island to San Luis Pass and flood gates at Bolivar Roads will protect Galveston Bay during a storm surge event.
He alluded to a competing proposal by the Rice University SSPEED Center which utilizes levees further inland, contending that wetlands will help retard storm surge along the coast.
“There is a lot of junk in the literature right now about wetlands, natural barriers and all this,” Merrell said. “Wetlands do not suppress major surge. Let me say that again – no study shows that they do. They do not.”
He stressed that Galveston “dodged the bullet” with Hurricane Ike, noting that one official forecast from the National Weather Service that was issued prior to landfall, would have put the storm in a position to shove 25 foot surges up the Houston Ship Channel.
“It would have wiped out the Exxon Plant, it would have wiped out all of that,” he said. “And this was the official forecast. We’re not talking about a hypothetical hurricane; we’re talking about one that was forecast.”
Merrell noted that the federal government has effectively created a storm surge protection system for New Orleans that cost much more than his proposed coastal spine.
Merrell said that the six county Gulf Coast Community Protection and Recovery District formed to study the feasibility of a storm surge protection system is not making progress, so he and TAMUG are seeking local support for the project, beginning with Galveston City Council and entities on the island and will take the campaign to other entities along the Houston Ship Channel.
John Helsley, president of TM&P Railroad, updated the wharves board on the Pelican Island rail project to service a bulk terminal and a proposed cargo terminal. Listen
“We have been contacted by a major automobile manufacturer group out of Chicago that wants to fund both projects on Pelican Island,” Helsley said, adding that the group is concerned about truck access to Pelican Island. “This bridge that we have is antiquated; it’s just held together by bailing wire, I guess since Hurricane Ike.”
Charlie Tompkins of EZ Cruise appeared before the wharves board, asking that cruise ship passengers be allowed to exit the port at 25th Street so that they would be more likely to visit restaurants and other island businesses before crossing the Causeway. Listen