City proceeds with industrial parkProposed work will be done in three phases for flexibility
The Washington City Council voted to proceed with caution Tuesday evening on a proposed 55-acre industrial park that is planned for city-owned land along Highway 1 next to the new wastewater plant.
The council voted to begin the first phase of planning the park during its regular meeting. A motion to allow the city to begin working on a method to deed plots was rejected. When complete, the Washington Economic Development Group (WEDG)will sell plots on behalf of the city to businesses. Council member Bob Shellmyer referred to beginning work on the deeding process before the park was created as “putting the cart in front of the horse.”
“We have a starting point,” Mayor Sandra Johnson said.
A contract to begin the planning will be delivered at the July 17 meeting.
During the meeting WEDG director Ed Raber said there were several businesses that could be interested in plots of developable land. Council member Mark Kendall said he was aware of at least three prospects that are interested in this kind of land. City administrator Brent Hinson said that the industrial park is laid out to provide space for smaller, locally based businesses and includes half-acre lots.
“There is a certain nitch – a certain type of business we are going to be very attractive to,” Hinson said.
Engineer Leland Belding of Veenstra and Kimm Inc. provided a map of a proposed industrial park which the council approved. The first phase will now move onto having a greater study done of such things as the land and utility needs for the park, drainage, and zoning and platting for the lots. A cost estimate will be brought to the council before the work starts. Council member Bob Shepherd said the design needed to be flexible enough that the lots can be changed if needed.
“When doing a multi-phase project, I guarantee you that whatever we determine for phase one is wrong,” Raber said. “It won’t match what is needed. That is just fine. The biggest travesty would be not doing anything and not having any municipally owned lots.”
. He said the design the council approved provides the flexibility to conform lots to what is needed. He said making smaller lots and combining them is easy.
Raber also said the council should start giving some thought on what criteria the council would need to sell a plot of land to a business. He advised to get the park ready and offer it at a reasonable cost.
Plans for the industrial park began after the city acquired 120 acres to build the wastewater plant. After it was completed city officials began discussing what to do with the property. Another option for the land was expansion of Elm Grove Cemetery. Hinson said that he identified that the city had no empty industrial sites for businesses to locate.
“This town needs land for industrial development,” Hinson said. “Industrial development is how we provide good services and have modest taxes.”
He said that an area isn’t going to have a chance of having a huge tax base without industrial development. Hinson said that the state has a program called Revitalizing Iowa’s Sound Economy (RISE) that will help pay for the roadway through the industrial park. He said the city has a budget of about $750,000 to create the park.
After phase 1 is complete, phases 2 and 3 will divide the land not divided in the first phase. The project is being done in phases to provide flexibility in the land usage.