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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP | PORT HUENEME

Deal Raising Capacity of Port Seen as Near

July 30, 1999|MATT SURMAN

The Port of Hueneme is nearing a deal that would allow the port to use one of the Navy's wharves, dramatically increasing its capacity, Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) said Thursday.

The Navy reiterated its support for the plan and said a written agreement is nearing completion, Gallegly said after a meeting with Duncan Holaday, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for installations and facilities.

A draft agreement was finalized two months ago, and the Oxnard Harbor District and the Navy are in negotiations.

Port officials are skeptical about whether an agreement is actually close, said Jess Herrera, a commissioner on the harbor district that oversees port operations.

"We've just been plugging away as always," Herrera said. "From my point of view, the pace hasn't changed dramatically. Maybe [Gallegly] knows something we don't."

The 90-acre port could increase its capacity by about 50% if allowed to use the Navy's Wharf 3 dock, which sits behind a chain-link fence dividing the port and the Navy Construction Battalion Center base.

The Navy wouldn't comment on specifics because of ongoing negotiations, said Teri Reid, a spokeswoman for the local base.

Port officials have proposed that, in exchange for use of the wharf, the harbor district would pay rent or build and maintain new facilities for shared use with the Navy, or a combination of the two.

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