Officials explore possibilities of industrial park

Alisa Boswell

The chairman of the Roosevelt County Community Development Corp. board envisions broadening the possibilities for the industrial park south of town.

Randy Knudson told city councilors at a public meeting Monday the industrial park does not need to be limited to just industries but could possibly include other entities such as the entertainment facility city officials and residents have been pushing for.

The meeting was held to gather input on the industrial park’s master plan.

“I think it’s a great brainstorm statement, because exploring all possibilities is always a good prospect,” City Councilor Oscar Robinson said after the meeting. “When the chairmen of the RCCDC Board mentioned it, I thought it was a visionary statement. He was saying there’s all kinds of prospects with it and I think that’s a great thought. I think we need to run it by the community and many other people to see how they feel about it. I think it would be a great point for community discussion.”

Councilor Keith Thomas agreed with Robinson that exploring other options for the park is a good idea.

“We have to keep an open mind and explore all of the possibilities and the location and which ever makes the best sense financially and the best business-sense is the direction we’ll have to go,” Thomas said, regarding an entertainment facility. “Right now, we just need to make sure we keep an open mind about where we go.”

The park now includes the airport, the sheriff’s office, Coca-Cola plant, Abengoa Bioenergy, DairiConcepts, Portales Cement, Automated Dairy, ProServe Feeds and Southwest Canners, according to RCCDC Director Greg Fisher. He said a solar company is also looking at the industrial park as a possible site.

President of Phelps Engineering Lonny Phelps, who developed the master plan, restated at the meeting the purpose of the master plan, saying its purpose is to “develop a comprehensive inventory of land use, infrastructure and property control/ownership.”

Phelps said benefits of the industrial park are new industries could repurpose wastewater from Abengoa and DairiConcepts; it is easily accessible from U.S. 70; and it is within close proximity to the airport and railroad.

The first stage of the plan, which entailed doing a study on all the aspects and qualities of the park, cost $99,000, which came from Local Economic Development Assistance funds.

Phelps said the next step for the plan would be to engineer drainage areas and roads and would cost between $80,000 and $90,000.

Knudson said he believes moving to the next step should be on hold until a new RCCDC director is hired to replace Fisher, who has announced his plans to resign as of Wednesday.

“This gives us the opportunity to start thinking about how we’re going to come up with the money to do what we need to do,” said Councilor Dianne Parker. “I think it’s important we have someone who can offer expertise in other areas.”

All councilors seemed to agree having a director is vital to the plan but some councilors also expressed concerns about waiting too long to continue to the next stage of engineering.

“I don’t think we should sit on this too long,” Thomas said. “This is vital to our community.”