CCPA Expands Pier 48 Contract, OKs Land Sale

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio – The Columbiana County Port Authority amended its contract with Pier 48 Stevedoring LLC Monday night to reflect the company operating the articulated crane and conveyor system nearing completion at the Wellsville Intermodal Facility.

Pier 48, which operates the 60-ton overhead bridge crane in place, pays the port authority a $5,000 management fee each month. That fee will increase to $10,000 a month, probably about the end of November, plus 50% of the net profits as under the old contract. Those net profits have risen to $80,000 a month and the CEO of the port authority, Tracy Drake, expects that figure to rise.

When the overhead crane began operations, the president of Pier 48, Larry Heck, had net earnings of $5,000 per month, the port authority CEO said.

“We have built the right system in the right place at the right time,” Drake told his board.

The contract was extended as well to run through Aug. 17, 2025, as the initial term. Pier 48 has an option to renew the agreement up to 20 years in five-year increments and pay an additional fee of $2,500 a month upon exercising each option.

Between now and the end of November, Pier 48 has agreed to pay the port authority an additional $2,500 a month, or $12,500 in rent, for the port authority’s out-of-pocket expenses in setting up the articulated crane and conveyor system.

At its monthly meeting, the port authority board approved the sale of 3.6 acres at the Intermodal Facility to Marathon Petroleum Co. LP for $2.4 million. Transfer of the property, scheduled Monday, has been rescheduled for Wednesday, Drake said.

This allows for the transfer of 0.1 acre owned by the city of Wellsville and a small piece of land discovered owned by a family (not the state of Ohio) to the port authority so it can transfer title to Marathon.

The city of Wellsville will receive $300,000 and $75,000 will go to the family, whom Drake did not identify.

Marathon has not spelled out exactly how it intends to use the 3.6 acres, which lie in a flood plain, but it’s expected to use the site for storage.

As part of the sales agreement, the port authority will spend $250,000 to improve an old pump station at the insistence of the Army Corps of Engineers. Drake credited U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-6 Ohio, for expediting the Corps of Engineers involvement.

Drake noted that Marathon announced a month ago it would acquire Denver-based MarkWest Energy Partners (for $15.8 billion in cash and stock), which had bought the former Youngstown & Southern Railroad from the authority. So the Marathon purchase of additional space at the Intermodal Facility bodes well for Columbiana County, Drake said.

The board approved the early payoff of $1.2 million from Data Recovery Services LLC for its existing Dark Fiber lease agreements. DRS, since acquired by Iowa-based Involta, had paid $600,000 to date.

The original investment in a fiber optics system for Columbiana County was $1.2 million, Drake said, so even with the ”slight discount” given DRS/Involta for the early payoff, the port authority comes out far ahead. “We paid $1.2 million for it,” the port authority CEO said. “We get one-point-eight or $1.9 million out of it.”

Pictured: Wellsville Intermodal Park.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.