COUNCILORS CRITICIZE UCEDC'S HANDLING OF INDUSTRIAL PARK

March 22, 2001 12:00 am

By Alice Perry Linker

Observer Staff Writer

Three Elgin city council members have accused a private economic development corporation of being unwilling to help develop an industrial park.

Speaking to the Union County commissioners Wednesday, Councilor Mark Stauffer said the Union County Economic Development Corporation has been unwilling to be a partner in providing improvements to Elgins new light industrial park.

Another city councilor, John McElravy, said UCEDC has asked the city to buy the industrial park at a price we cannot afford.

McElravy said UCEDC lists the cost of industrial park land at $10,000 per acre on its Web site. The Elgin park has 14 acres of unsold land.

The industrial park lies on land originally owned by Boise Cascade. Several months ago, UCEDC, which owns land in the Baum Industrial Park east of Island City, negotiated a land swap with

Boise Cascade for Boises Elgin

parcel.

W.C. Construction of Elgin has already purchased some land within the park to expand its business. The Village Smithy, owned by Jeff Smith, is also trying to locate a business in the industrial park but no agreement has been reached. Smith has said he will build aircraft parts.

The City of Elgin and Union County will apply for a state economic grant and a loan to provide infrastructure (sewer, water and electrical conduits) to the park. The infrastructure is projected to cost between $350,000 and $400,000. Elgin City Manager Joe Garlitz has said he does not know how UCEDC will participate in infrastructure development.

Stauffer referred to the prospective industrial park landowners as men of vision.

Elgin and these men have a vision of paved streets, sidewalks, landscaping and street lighting to make our park as attractive as possible to potential businesses, Stauffer read from a prepared statement. However, we have been told by the UCEDC that this does not fit their vision for this park.

Elgin Mayor Berta Churchill said UCEDC has washed their hands of the park.

They want to sell Elgin the park at their price, she said. They say, This is the way it is whether you like it or not. We cant afford that.

Dan Schutte, president of UCEDC, said Wednesday afternoon that he has not talked to any Elgin councilors.

No councilors have contacted us. Were trying to set up a meeting with the executive committee to try to resolve these issues.

McElravy said that the industrial park is important to the towns economy, which is almost entirely dependent upon Boise Cascade.

We need this industrial park, he said. Were depending on you (the county) and UCEDC. They asked us for money, and we put that on the table. They are not doing anything to help us.

County Commissioner John Howard told the Elgin representatives that the county wants to work with the city and all its partners to develop the economic health of Elgin.

The UCEDC-owned property is one of only a few pieces zoned for industrial development in Elgin. Much of the industrial land remains in Boise ownership.