Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Economic leaders seek second industrial park

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 10/21/2013

Ottawa and Franklin County leaders might be zeroing in on a site for a new industrial park in the Ottawa area.

At its Nov. 6 meeting, Ottawa city commissioners are expected to consider a memorandum of understanding between the city commission, Franklin County Board of Commissioners and Franklin County Development Council to “share equally in the cost to hire legal counsel to assist in land acquisition for the development of a future industrial park in Franklin County,” according to the memorandum.

Ottawa and Franklin County leaders might be zeroing in on a site for a new industrial park in the Ottawa area.

At its Nov. 6 meeting, Ottawa city commissioners are expected to consider a memorandum of understanding between the city commission, Franklin County Board of Commissioners and Franklin County Development Council to “share equally in the cost to hire legal counsel to assist in land acquisition for the development of a future industrial park in Franklin County,” according to the memorandum.

The agreement calls for the three entities to share in legal costs not to exceed $10,000 per party, the memorandum said.

When Jeff Seymour took over the reigns as the first full-time executive director of the Franklin County Development Council in November 2012, he and other economic development leaders acknowledged the need for additional land to expand industrial development opportunities in Franklin County.

“The good news is that Ottawa’s industrial park has been extremely successful, but we’re close to running out of property,” Seymour said in a December 2012 interview. “We are looking to determine where our best opportunities for expansion are located. Communities like Lawrence and Topeka have shovel-ready land available, so we need to make sure we are prepared [to accommodate growth].”

The search for the ideal location has continued, and the fact legal fees have entered into the discussion might suggest to some the focus has narrowed.

But Seymour and Mike Skidmore, former FCDC board member and current Ottawa city commissioner, both declined to discuss possible land acquisitions Friday — including potential sites and a possible timeline for the acquisition.

“It would be premature to discuss [potential sites] at this time,” Seymour said.

The memorandum  indicated legal counsel would represent FCDC in the matter.

“FCDC is charged with finding another location for an industrial development park or business development park, and part of that need is to engage legal counsel,” Richard Nienstedt, Ottawa city manager, said.        

City, county and FCDC officials met last week in executive session during a city commission meeting to discuss property acquisition — possibly related to a future industrial park, though officials declined to discuss what transpired in the closed-door session. Commissioners plan to consider the cost-sharing agreement when they meet 7 p.m. Nov. 6 at City Hall, 101 S. Hickory St., Ottawa.

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