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Textron Marine and Land Systems has scrapped plans to house displaced workers in 200 travel trailers at the Oak Harbor Golf & Country Club near Slidell, La., according to a report in the Times Picayune, New Orleans.
Instead, Textron will put the trailers in nearby Lacombe, according to a top company official. The decision came after representatives of Oak Harbor Estates said that unless a compromise was reached, they would go to court to block Textron’s proposal to put trailers on the golf course.
Textron, which has its main plant in eastern New Orleans and an assembly finishing plant in Slidell, is trying to deliver on $660 million in Army contracts for armored security vehicles for the war in Iraq. The company said production was set back several months by Hurricane Katrina.
Company officials hope to resume full operations by late November but need to find places for their hurricane-displaced workers to live, said Clay Moise, Textron’s vice president for marine and combat vehicles.
In a meeting last week with representatives of Oak Harbor, a huge upscale residential complex, Textron asked about placing the trailers on the driving range for as long as a year.
“Almost 40% of our (1,200-person) work force lives in St. Tammany, some of them in Oak Harbor,” Moise said. “Many of the people who are protesting are themselves disadvantaged by the storm. Half of Oak Harbor is destroyed, including my mother’s home.”
But as word spread of that meeting and St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis’ promise to try to help the company, the opposition grew, including threats of legal action.
Textron officials continued looking at other sites and settled on Lacombe, west of Slidell.
Textron will lease the land from a developer, who has built streets and installed water, sewage and drainage systems for a new subdivision. He will forgo further development to allow the trailers, Moise said.