Port dedicated in honor of Sammy NunezJul 6th, 2010 | By Frank McCormack | Category: Top Story
After nearly five years of operating out of temporary trailers near the iconic Kaiser Aluminum smokestack, leaders of the St. Bernard Port, Harbor and Terminal District officially dedicated the port’s new Administration and Security Complex this week in Chalmette.
A standing-room-only crowd of port and community leaders gathered in the port complex’s first floor lobby Tuesday to not only celebrate the successful completion of the state-of-the-art building but also to honor former State Senator Sammy Nunez for his unwavering support for the port.
After a prayer of blessing offered up by Father Danny Digal of Our Lady of Prompt Succor Church, a visibly excited Executive Director of the Port Robert Scafidel welcomed the crowd to the port complex.
“After five years in trailers, today is a great day as we celebrate moving into our 33,000-square-foot, $7.8 million facility,” Scafidel said.
The port’s previous administrative building was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The new facility was built to not only handle high winds but high water as well. The Administration and Security Complex was built to withstand a wind load of 150 mph. The complex also comes equipped with a backup generator capable of operating the facility for more than a week.
The first floor of the facility, which stands above base flood elevation, offers mainly parking and storage, with a lobby and elevator access at one end. The second floor of the three-story building offers tenant office space and port offices, a conference room and a secure command center make up the third floor.
The third floor also offers sprawling views both upriver and down.
Architecturally, the building visually and symbolically maintains its connection to river commerce with its ground-to-roof windows on one corner which resemble the bow of a ship.
“This facility represents the physical culmination of years of hard work,” said port commissioner Jacques Leblanc. “It’s the beginning of an even great future for the Port of St. Bernard.”
“And as always, one man stands out as a catalyst for this endeavor,” Leblanc said, pointing to Nunez.
Scafidel, Leblanc and 34th Judicial District Court Judge Manny Fernandez all heaped praise on Nunez, not just for his decades-long political career, but also for his commitment to St. Bernard Parish and the vision of a Port of St. Bernard.
“Sammy’s great reward was his service to the people,” Fernandez said. “We lift our glass and our heart … to the man we honor today – Mr. Sammy Nunez.”
Nunez humbly accepted the accolades.
“I suppose the only bad thing to do at this stage of the game is to break down crying,” he joked. “It’s very humbly that I accept the honor of naming this building after me.”
Nunez recounted stories of leading the push to first purchase the Kaiser Aluminum facility in the 1980s, then the Norfolk Southern slip just up river. At the time, the Kaiser facility cost between $3 million and $4 million. The boat slip cost about $6.5 million. Nunez said he believes port development has a huge potential for impacting the community, especially considering the widening of the Panama Canal which is set for completion in 2014.
“I believe very strongly about port development in this country,” he said. “International and state trade, I think, can help us out of any economic hardship.”
And throughout his remarks, Nunez pointed out fellow legislators, port developers and friends in the audience who had played just as crucial a role in developing the Port of St. Bernard as he had.
“You’ve done well gang, and I certainly want you to know,” Nunez said.
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