Port agency's head of development quits Shafran oversaw birth of Seagirt

August 17, 1991|By John H. Gormley Jr.

Isaac Shafran, who presided over the port of Baltimore's massive capital expansion program for the last five years, has resigned as director of development for the Maryland Port Administration.

He becomes the second of the port agency's five directors to resign since Adrian G. Teel took over the helm of the MPA in late June with orders to revitalize the troubled port agency. The director of personnel, Tracy V. Drake, left July 5.

"Isaac's been an extremely hard worker for the port," Mr. Teel said yesterday. "He was involved in a lot of vital projects that will benefit the port in the years ahead."

Mr. Shafran said that now that the port's ambitious construction program is essentially complete, he is ready to move on. "It's been a very substantial development of excellent facilities. They set the framework for the future of the port," he said.

He said that his departure at this time makes sense, in part because it gives Mr. Teel an opportunity to shape his own team. "As the new guy, he's going to want to mold the organization in his own way. He should do that. He's an excellent guy; he has the skills to turn the port around," Mr. Shafran said.

The jewel of the port's new facilities is the Seagirt Marine Terminal, a high-tech facility built specially for container traffic.

Since its opening in last fall, Seagirt has won the praise of steamship lines using it. However, the history of the facility has not been an entirely happy one, corresponding to a very tumultuous period in the port and at the port administration.

When the Seagirt rail yard opened in the fall of 1988, a dispute broke out with the longshoremen's union over the jobs at the terminal. The dispute dragged on for months. Before it was resolved, MPA Director David A. Wagner resigned. He was replaced in May of 1989 by Brendan W. "Bud" O'Malley, who remained two years before being forced from office.

One of the problems that delayed the opening of Seagirt involved the computer hardware and software to operate the truck gate that processes cargo as it moves in and out of the terminal. Mr. Shafran played a central role in the selection of the California company that was to supply the computer software and hardware. The MPA ultimately abrogated the contract, saying that the company had not produced the software on time. That set the Seagirt schedule back many months. The terminal finally opened last fall, about a year and a half after the target date.

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