"Moss Lake Village" for temporary workers - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

"Moss Lake Village" for temporary workers

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First there was Pelican Lodge and now there's Moss Lake Village — another project in the works to house temporary workers during the height of major construction in Southwest Louisiana.

Moss Lake Village would be in the Carlyss area. Negotiations are underway to let a company called First Flight Holdings LLC develop temporary housing on Southland Field property in Carlyss. 

If a lease is approved, it would provide housing for workers on the Sempra Cameron LNG project.  first flight proposes to lease about 100 acres of airport property.  

Those in favor of Moss Lake Village say it'll have a lot of benefits for the community and support economic growth.

Southland Board Chairman Bill Hankins said, "Anytime you have these types of issues where you have multi billion dollar projects and you can't employ all the people locally, you are going to have to provide housing and these employee villages are a very positive way to do that."

Hankins says buses would shuttle workers between the village and the LNG facility in Cameron Parish.

"Is it better to move them 50 at a time on a bus or is it better to have them driving individual cars? There's not even going to be a place to park that many cars down there," said Hankins.

Also he says it would mean revenue and infrastructure improvements to airport property that would stay after the housing is no longer needed.

"Right now we're looking at around $360,000 in base rent and then some additional rent based on the number of people that are there. There will be some roads that will be installed.  They're putting in a hangar at our request that will be used to service the buses and do other things," said Hankins.

Still, there are rumblings from citizens.  a letter circulating raises concerns ranging from increased crime and traffic to a decrease in property values.  The letter can be found at the end of this story.

For more information on Moss Lake Village, citizens can attend the board meeting at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 6 at Southland Field.

Also, following this story is a news release from airport officials and look for our Web extra, featuring an expanded interview with Bill Hankins.

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Letter from concerned citizen:

Dear Neighbors:

The Southland Field Board has unilaterally decided to lease out the grounds to temporarily house 2500 workers for five (5) years and bus them to Hackberry for work.  This will affect your safety, your family's safety and your home values.  This airport is already a nuisance to the neighborhood by allowing helicopters to constantly fly over the resident's homes at all hours of the day.  They don't care about the community and are not good neighbors. Of course these unelected board members could care less because they live elsewhere and are not affected by it.

This unelected board has hidden this from us in an attempt to deceive us.  The plans are drawn up and the contractor in place.  They are having the contractor and their airport manager talk to us, one by one, to try and fool us into thinking they are doing us a favor.  They think we are stupid and will just roll over for them.  They have misjudged us.  They have planned this for over three (3) months.  Where were our police jurors during this time?

These unelected board members do not live near this property and they think they are not affected by what they are doing to us.  How can this unelected board decide this without the people's consent?  They are more concerned in keeping this nuisance airport open because it cannot sustain itself. They have chosen to put this facility in our back yard because they don't have to live by it and they won't be affected by the traffic, noise and crime that will emanate from it.  All of West Calcasieu Parish will be affected.  These people will venture the back roads and neighborhoods of Carlyss and into Sulphur as well.  It is not only the people who live on Hwy 27 and Hwy 108 who need to worry. 

The facility will use 30 buses multiple times a day to bring these workers to Hackberry.  Our roads cannot take this added traffic and congestion.  Our children and family are already at risk driving on this congested road with the traffic and the hazardous waste trucks that frequent it.  This will affect the entirety of Carlyss.  But the unelected board members don't care because none live by this nuisance airport. 

The parish is complaining that sewage in the ditches is so great a concern they attempted to tax us for a sewer line.  Yet they will allow 2500 workers to flood our ditches with their sewage?  That doesn't make sense.

These workers WILL NOT be local workers as they claim. That is impossibility!  First, if they were local there would be no need for temporary housing.  Companies are already building temporary housing for 4000 workers in Johnson Bayou and for 5000 workers on Port Property in Lake Charles.  There are not that many craftsmen in this area or the state to fill these jobs.  These will be foreign or alien workers from different countries. These are not union craftsmen. Don't let them lie to you.  From what we've heard, the facility in Lake Charles is on Port Property by the Sheriff's Department and strip clubs.  The Port has Port police.  They will also be protected by the Sheriff's Department and the city police.  The company building in Johnson Bayou is housing their workers in Johnson Bayou.  Port Arthur is already congested from the traffic going from Texas to Johnson Bayou.  But both those temporary housing facilities are in the area where the work is and will benefit from the construction. 

Let them house their workers in Cameron Parish where they will be working.  They will work in Hackberry but play in our neighborhood.  They have no pride of ownership.  They won't get off of work and cut the grass on the property they own.  They won't take their children and grandchildren to play ball.  It will be 2500 foreign men with nothing to do and money in their pocket. 

2500 workers could add 2500 cars traversing Hwy 27, Hwy 108 and all roads in Carlyss.  Those foreigners without cars will be walking our streets at all hours.  Our families will not be safe.  Even if only 10% of these workers are criminals, drunks or dope heads, that puts 250 criminals, drunks and dope heads on our streets and in our neighborhoods.  Then add the prostitution and drug dealers that will supply a portion of 2500 men making $80,000 per year (as the contractor claims).  In any profession there will be good honest hardworking people but there will be trash as well.  Water seeks its own level and so will the deviants they house in our neighborhood.  The company claims these workers will be drug tested.  That remains to be seen but alcohol is legal and these people will have 12 hours a day on their hands when they are not at work.   

The company says that the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Department has agreed to block and direct traffic at certain hours of the day so this company can block our roads and transport their foreign workers to a different parish to work.  That should be self-explanatory regarding the traffic situation.

The company said that the Sheriff's department will patrol and they will have security on the premises.  I wonder why?  Could it be crime? 

The company also said they are building one room bedrooms for the workers so they won't be attacking each other as they did in other places.  They "learned the hard way".  Yet they want to put these people in our neighborhood with our wives, mothers, daughters, granddaughters, our family, our retired, our seniors and our property?

This facility will not benefit our area financially.  The company claims that they will have a store for the workers to shop and will feed the workers on the property.  None of our legal businesses will profit from these foreign workers. 

The company claims these men will work 12 hours per day and will be too tired to leave the complex.  Yet, they plan on having a soccer field and baseball field at the complex.  Their lies and pretty pictures do not hold water.  There is no way these workers making $80,000 per year will stay in this compound and be good little boys.  This company lie is laughable and insulting.

Our home values will plummet.  The company says that is not true.  If it is not true, then they should buy our homes and then sell them for what they paid for them. They would not be out of a cent.  But they won't do it.  It's common sense.  They think we are stupid! 

This work is being done in Hackberry in Cameron Parish.  When asked why they don't put it in Cameron Parish the company said there is not enough land.  Nonsense!  Cameron Parish is the largest parish in the state geographically with the lowest population.  They can find enough acreage there for their foreign workers.  It's obvious they just don't want to pay the price for the land or have to go through the rezoning process.  Southland's unelected board is desperately trying to keep their needless airstrip open and will rent the property for less than they can get it for in Cameron Parish. Where are our Police Jurors whom we elected to represent us?  They had to know about this and yet we are just finding out.

If you are concerned for your family, your neighbor and your property, you need to attend the next Southland Field's Board meeting.  Let them know that this facility is not wanted in Carlyss.  The board meeting is:

May 6 at 4:30 p.m. at Southland Field.

BTW, have you ever heard of a public board meeting starting at 4:30?  Could this be an attempt by the board to keep the working people from attending?

Please call all the Elected Police Jurors expressing your concerns of how an unelected board can make this decision without approval of the people it affects and how a company building in another parish can house their foreign workers in our parish.

The Southland Filed Board members are not all listed.  Here are the ones we know are on the board.  Please call them and let them know your disgust with their actions.

R.K. Levins                 Home: 625-4100   Work: 439-8673

Dalton Langford          Home: 558-6992    Work: 583-4709

Scott Foreman Home   Home:           Work: 625-9171

Tim Dougherty           Home: 583-2465

Joe Palermo                Home: 625-3334/625-9331

Bill Hankins               Home:  Not listed or not listed in his name.

Field manager is Tim LaFleur.  The number at his office is 583-9144.  Mr. LaFleur should be made to answer each and every concern you may have.  He is an employee of a board that is overseen by different public entities.  Your tax money pays his salary.  Please make sure you call and have him explain the questions you have now that you are informed.      

NEWS RELEASE FROM AIRPORT OFFICIALS FOLLOWS:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

DATE:  APRIL 17, 2014

CONTACT:  Bill Hankins 

Tim LaFleur, 337-583-9144

 

SOUTHLAND EXECUTIVE NEGOTIATING LEASE OF AIRPORT PROPERTY 

 

On April 1, the West Calcasieu Airport Managing Board considered proposals from groups interested in leasing property from Southland Executive Aviation in Sulphur. After discussion, the Board authorized the airport to negotiate a lease agreement with First Flight Holdings, LLC, for use of approximately 100-acres of airport property.

 

Based on its proposal, Louisiana-based First Flight plans to develop a temporary residential community on property strategically located near several planned industrial expansions.  The planned community, Moss Lake Village, is designed to scale up and down, based on demand, and to accommodate up to 2,500 people at peak occupancy. As local communities, like Sulphur, contemplate an impending surge in industrial construction, a key concern is an increase in traffic. To address these concerns, the transportation services incorporated into Moss Lake Village are expected to significantly reduce the number of vehicles traveling on Highway 27.

 

"This action achieves several objectives – practical and economic," said Bill Hankins, Board Chair. "First, as part of the community, we feel like this can help minimize the potential impact on current residents and businesses by consolidating housing and transportation activities associated with these projects in a well-organized location.  From an economic vantage, our partnership with First Flight supports the multi-billion dollar industrial expansions planned for this area and allows us to leverage the full economic value of airport property."

 

The Airport Managing Board's decision was endorsed by local economic leaders "With nearly 32,000 construction jobs heading our way, construction housing will be a critical component to getting these mega projects built and operating," said David Conner, Vice President of Economic Development and International Commerce for the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance. What effect would it have on our housing markets if we used permanent housing for temporary workforce needs?  We believe developments like this one are a great solution to this temporary need.  The question of need for these temporary housing developments is very important.  But, equally important is the question of housing these workers if we didn't have this kind of solution.  We're excited to see the Board of Southland Executive Aviation stepping up to assist the community with this housing need."

 

Based on First Flight's initial proposal, permanent infrastructure installed by First Flight will remain in place after the temporary village has been removed, thereby becoming assets for the long-term benefit of the airport.  Additionally, once the community is at or near full occupancy, the company has agreed to make $50,000 annual cash or in-kind contributions to the community for educational or youth activities.  And in the case of a natural disaster and the cessation of construction activities, First Flight has agreed to provide ice, water, food, and short-term shelter to local families who are displaced by the disaster.

 

 

Although the lease with First Flight is still pending final approval, there is ongoing communication with local officials and surrounding residents. "Communication is crucial, as we make our best efforts to serve the interests of all stakeholders and meet multiple objectives around this property," Airport Director Tim LaFleur said.  "We realize there are questions.  But our experience has been that once people have the opportunity to hear the details, the more positive they feel not only about Moss Lake Village, but about the planned construction projects in general."

 

Specifically, in addition to the temporary residential development, the proposal by First Flight lays out plans for indoor recreational facilities as well as outdoor courts, playing fields, and outdoor cooking areas. Moss Lake Village residents will also be provided with on-site services, including transportation services, daily maid/laundry services, and daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner. On-site security for Moss Lake Village will be in place 24 hours-a-day, 365 days-a-year and will include oversight by Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's deputies, as well as additional private security.

 

According to LaFleur, proposals considered by the Board on April 1, including the First Flight proposal, were submitted in response to a Request for Proposal, which was advertised from the week of March 17 until the deadline of April 1.  The ads appeared in the Lake Charles American Press and Southwest Daily News.  The notice also appeared on the airport's website, as well as the Energy Economic Development website.  Notices were also sent directly to companies that had previously expressed an interest in leasing airport property.

 

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