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City eyes $250K property

Looks to grow industrial park

Brewton’s industrial park could grow by more than 77 acres, if the city finalizes a $250,000 agreement to purchase property between Frit Carr and Georgia Pacific.

The “strategically placed” site, which is owned by the Downing family, features  Hwy. 31 frontage and rail service, Mayor Yank Lovelace said. As part of the agreement, the family will donate half the property’s value in exchange for the negotiated purchase price.

“This property has been coveted by the city for a very long time,” Lovelace said. “I’d like to say publicly that we appreciate the Downing family for their donation.”

No vote was taken on the proposal; however, Jess Nichols of Costal Gateway outlined the benefits of the site.

Nichols said the site’s railroad feature makes it “exciting” to potential industry; however, if the site is purchased, it is recommended that it be established as an “Advantage Site” for industry. The process, which is very competitive with only five sites designated annually statewide, means the site is “business ready” with installed needed infrastructure. The earliest the site could be AS classified is spring 2017.

“It is more reasonable to shoot for 2018,” he said. “But, unifying the Downing property and the industrial park would allow the park to claim rail service – which is a boon. It really is the best rail site in Escambia County.”

In other business, the council:

• approved the fiscal year 2017 budget of $34.1 million;

• approved a three-year contract with BFI Waste Services for city garbage services. The change will not impact garbage costs in the city, officials said;

• approved an employee travel reimbursement policy;

• hired Piper Jaffray to underwrite the city’s two bond measures in an effort to save approximately $400,000; and,

• voted to all the city board of education to assume $10.2 million in joint bonds so that the board can write its own bonds and take advantage of reduced interest rates. Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Varner said there will be little to no new money created in the transaction.