Family tells parish it will not renegotiate land lease deal for boat launch

Family tells parish it will not renegotiate land lease deal for boat launch

ST. CHARLES PARISH, LA (WVUE) - Wednesday night, a family member of St. Charles Parish Councilwoman Mary Clulee told an advisory panel that her brother was not renegotiating the price of a land lease called "questionable" by panel members and citizens.

"Here me good when I say this, Gator Cove is not selling, lengthening the contract or reducing the monthly price, so make a decision or count us out. Our family has suffered enough," Hope Savoie said.

The West Bank Boat Launch Citizens Advisory Committee was created after questions arose about the price of the land lease with Gator Cove Marina II.

The lease involved 32 acres of marshland Clulee sold to her nephew, who owns Gator Cove, just days before the land was leased to the parish for $4,500  a month for the next 30 years, which would cost St. Charles taxpayers $1.6 million over the span of the deal.

Parish President Larry Cochran wrote a letter to Clulee's nephew to cancel the deal. The parish council has not voted on canceling the lease with Gator Cove.

Cochran also said there was no assessment done to determine the value of the land before the deal was made. Clulee has told FOX 8 that the price of the land is determined by how much someone is willing to pay for it.

Clulee sold 300 acres, which included the 32 acres of marshland, to her nephew for "$100 plus valuable consideration".

"That is the term that is commonly used when people don't want nosy people knowing their business," Savoie told the panel. "It is not a violation of any laws to use that terminology. The only people that truly need to know the sale amount of any property is a buyer or seller and the IRS. If anybody else has a problem with that, it will remain their problem."

At this time, the panel has three to five suggestions of possible locations for the boat launch, including the Gator Cove location off of Highway 90 near Boutte.

Savoie told the panel members they were taking too long to make a decision.

"You had one job, pick a piece of property and present it to the council. The job should be over. It's time to fill that job request in my opinion," she said.

As a part of the Gator Cove deal, the Clulees were donating a piece of land to the parish for servitude to allow people to get onto Gator Cove's property.

At Wednesday's meeting, a letter was presented to the panel from Clulee's husband, Neal Clulee. The letter signed by Neal Clulee said he has worked with the parish for a year to get a location for the boat launch and he felt it has come to a point to remove his donation entirely.

But after some negotiation with the panel, Neal Clulee said if the Gator Cove location is accepted he will keep that donation in place.

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