Parish says controversial boat launch lease has been canceled

The controversial $4,500-a-month Gator Cove boat launch lease has been canceled despite the St. Charles Parish Council earlier delaying the move so its newly named citizens advisory committee could consider it as they begin a search for new boat launch locations.

The cancellation surfaced at Monday’s council meeting when Councilman Paul Hogan inquired what would be done with the lease when the parish’s 60-day option to cancel would expire before their next meeting.

Parish attorney Bobbie Raymond replied, “The lease, in my opinion, is canceled.”

Raymond told Hogan a cancellation letter dated Sept. 13 signed by Parish President Larry Cochran had been mailed to Gerald Savoie Jr., manager and agent of Gator Cove Marina II in Cut Off, La.

According to a copy of the letter provided to the Herald-Guide, it advises Gator Cove of the parish’s right to cancel the lease, as well as states, “We trust that Gator Cove Marina II will forego any lease payments, which may be due  in accordance with said lease.”

Raymond has since confirmed the parish paid nothing on the lease to Gator Cove and no new lease is currently proposed with the company.

The announcement, however, contradicts the council delaying cancellation of the agreement to allow its 13-member West Bank Boat Launch Citizens Advisory Committee to consider it.

The committee was named earlier this month and no meeting date has been announced.

Calling the move “very perplexing,” Hogan further questioned why Cochran and the administration left the ordinance to cancel the lease on the meeting agenda knowing Cochran had signed a cancellation letter to Savoie.

He tabled his resolution that would have sought an Attorney General’s opinion on the deal.

Hogan added he is concerned the lease is still on the table because the council has not voted to cancel it.

Parish Public Works Director Clayton “Snookie” Faucheux said the committee will still consider the Gator Cove site among proposed West Bank locations.

Faucheux will serve as the committee’s facilitator.

“All sites will be considered and judged against the criteria that the committee determines,” he said. “The committee will look at all areas of the parish as there may have been areas that were never previously considered.”

In response to intense public scrutiny over the lease deal when it was approved in August, Cochran announced he would ask the council to cancel it and would name a citizens advisory committee to offer recommendations on future West Bank boat launch sites to the administration.

The controversy erupted over the council’s approval of a deal leasing the marina site for $4,500 a month for 30 years from Savoie.

Hogan called the deal “criminal” and said Savoie is the nephew of Neal Clulee, whose wife, Mary, serves on the council. A bill of sale also shows the Clulees sold the marina acreage to Savoie for $100 in August. Also, Savoie formed the company on May 11, 2017, according to the Louisiana Secretary of State business filings.

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