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Port board set to sign study deal

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First phase will cost $20,000

By Chris Van Ormer

 

Executing an agreement with TranSystems Corporation to prepare a feasibility study for Port Citrus will account for most of the business at Tuesday’s meeting of the Citrus County Port Authority board.

It has taken nearly two years for county government to get to this stage in its quest to determine if a commercial seaport could be developed along the former Cross Florida Barge Canal site in the northwest section of the county. 

After a legal challenge to its first selection process for a consultant to conduct the feasibility study, the board met in October to repeat the process. It chose TranSystems Corporation for the task and its negotiating team has met with TranSystems’ representatives to draw up a mutually agreeable scope of services document.

TranSystems will charge $100,000 for the study. Half the funding will come from the Florida Seaport Transportation and Economic Development (FSTED) Council. The other half will be met by CLM Workforce Connection — $15,000, Citrus County business license fees — $15,000, Citrus County Economic Development Council — $12,000 and port authority — $8,000.

TranSystems intends to approach the assignment as a three-phased project with costs budgeted at each phase. The first phase would determine if the establishment of Port Citrus would be economically viable. If the first phase found Port Citrus not to be feasible, TranSystems proposed to suspend the study. This phase would be completed within 140 days and cost $20,000.

The second phase would identify funding sources and make preliminary applications for funding. This phase would be completed within 120 days and cost $30,000.

The third phase would refine market analysis to identify potential market opportunities and port customers. This phase would be completed within 270 to 360 days of the start of the project and cost $50,000.

The completed feasibility study would be used as a marketing tool to attract commercial interest in developing Port Citrus.

The study is expected to be completed within one year. Under a 2011 state law that added Citrus as the 18th member of FSTED Council, the port authority has until July 1, 2014, to conduct a feasibility study.

Chronicle reporter Chris Van Ormer can be reached at cvanormer@chronicleonline.com or 352-564-2916. 

* WHAT: Citrus County Port Authority board meeting.

* WHEN: 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

* WHERE: Room 100, Citrus County Courthouse, 110 N. Apopka Ave., Inverness.

* AGENDA: Available on the county’s website, www.bocc.citrus.fl.us.