City council talk turns to business park again

June 24, 2010

First steps toward creating a possible business park were taken off the back burner and addressed at Monday’s Baldwin City Council meeting.

Over the years, there have been several proposed sites for such a park and the city has invested in land for them, only to let the options expire. The economic development committee of the council, chaired by Council Member Bonnie Plumberg, has again raised the issue.

“We just feel that it might be the right time, with the amount of jobs it could offer,” said Plumberg, during a work session at Monday’s meeting on the proposal. “We want to grow. We know the Intermodal is going to happen. We think it would put us at the stage of being ready.”

The long-talked about Intermodal near Edgerton, which the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway has planned for years, recently received a $35 million grant from the state to begin construction this year. Mayor Ken Wagner believes that will make it happen.

“They would not make that offer if it wouldn’t be accepted,” said Wagner. “The Intermodal is going to happen.”

Many believe that could open doors for the need of a business park to provide services for the shipping hub. But currently there is no space, much less buildings or utilities, for such businesses.

Beth Johnson of the Lawrence/Douglas County Economic Development group was also on hand Monday and outlined what the current industrial park means to Baldwin City. There are a total of 72 full-time and four part-time employees at the sight east of town and a total of $81,940 in taxes were generated from there in 2009.

The council discussed what steps needed to be taken to get the ball rolling on a new park. The two biggest items were to talk to Douglas County Commission Chair Nancy Thellman to gauge the county’s interest in funding and a feasibility study to find out what’s needed to be done.

“I think that’s a good start,” said Council Member Tom Farmer.

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