Board backs bonds to buy industrial land

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, April 6, 2004

Lincoln County officials passed a resolution supporting up to$2.2 million in bonds toward the purchase of a new industrial parkafter meeting behind closed doors for more than an hour Monday.

When they emerged, Chandler Russ, executive vice-president ofthe Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce, formallyrequested the board “pass a resolution to support up to $2.2million in bonds to purchase the property for the industrial parkon Site B for Phase I.”

Site B includes 450 acres of 15th section land at the end of theBrookway Boulevard.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The total project has been estimated at $4.8 million, but thecity had already passed a similar resolution. An additional$500,000 will be provided by the Industrial DevelopmentFoundation.

Supervisors passed the resolution unanimously despitereservations about how the tax revenues would be shared.

The board learned during the executive session, called forindustrial prospect purpose, that no provision existed to allow theBrookhaven Public School District and the Lincoln County PublicSchool District to share in property tax revenue. City schools willreceive the full portion of tax revenues.

“I’m going to vote for it, but I’m not happy that the law statesthat it can’t be divided,” said District Three Supervisor NolanEarl Williamson. “You would look foolish not to support economicdevelopment.”

It was a sentiment shared by most of the board.

“I do think it would be fairer to the children of the county forthat revenue to be shared,” said District Four Supervisor W.D.”Doug” Moak. “I would like to pass a resolution encouraging ourschool districts to work together to see what they can do, and ourlegislators to review these laws.”

Moak’s resolution also passed unanimously.

“It’ll be up to the school boards whether or not they can workit out,” he said. “I just wanted something to say we support(sharing the tax revenues.)”

District One Supervisor the Rev. Jerry Wilson added he was proudto see the city and county working together for the benefit ofboth.

Russ agreed.

“That was really a momentous day in that room,” Russ said later.”The supervisors had a difficult decision to make and they made it.Coupled with the city’s similar resolution passed earlier, itreally brings the … entities together to move forward intogetting this done.”

According to Russ, the county’s last major effort inestablishing an industrial park resulted in the current park, builtin the 1950s.

Some smaller “slices” have been added in the past half-century,but the county needed to show they had a sincere desire to promoteindustry. Monday’s decision did that, Russ said.

“We’re out of industrial park property, and this will get usback in the ball game for industrial projects,” he said.

The board’s resolution now allows officials of the city, thecounty and the IDF to meet and begin preparing bond documents topurchase and develop the land based on the information theygather.

“It’s the first step in the bond process and really gets theball rolling,” Russ said.

At Moak’s request, the board also passed a resolutionauthorizing those appointed to investigate the possibility ofacquiring Site A during Site B’s second phase.

Site A includes 550 acres at the Mt. Zion Road intersection withI-55. Pursuing that project has been estimated at $13 million.

Board members also authorized officials to consider the cost ofextending the road into Site B onto some 16th Section land behindthe proposed industrial park. That property is owned by the countyschool district.

“We greatly need a park, but we also need to go on and build aroad and bridge into Section 16 during Phase One to give thebusinesses the option of building where they want to,” saidDistrict Five Supervisor Gary Walker. “Also, by putting this in the16th section, the tax revenues would be split between theschools.”

The road would link Brookway Boulevard to Opelousas Trail andinclude a bridge over the Bogue Chitto River. It would be built aspart of Phase Two.