Economic development sites studied
By: Paul Kedinger
By PAUL KEDINGER
Economic development experts from Taimerica Management Company presented seven “representative” industrial development sites to members of a steering committee of the Acadia Parish Police Jury Friday morning.
All potential sites in Acadia Parish, along with the consultants’ assessment of the parish’s strengths and weaknesses will be reviewed during a workshop to be held Thursday, July 7, at the LSU AgCenter, starting at 8:30 a.m.
All seven sites identified Friday are north of Interstate 10.
In a June 3 session, Ed Bee and Mart Black evaluated three sites south of the Interstate, LeGros Airport, Mermentau Port and the Crowley-Rayne Industrial Park.
The advantage of the northern sites, according to Black, were less likelihood of floodplain issues and cheaper insurance costs.
The sites also provided easy access to I-10, more access to rail service, availability of water and sewer service and closeness to population centers.
As the session’s spokesman, Black emphasized the seven sites were discussed to study the issues and costs to provide rail and interstate access and provide water and sewer service.
The sites included:
• 117 acre site south of Crowley High School with rail line on its western boundary and access to LA 13 and I-10.
• 52 acre site west of LA 13 with a rail line on its western boundary.
• Approximately 70 acres 2.3 acres northwest of Mowata adjacent to the gas plant with rail line on its eastern boundary with access to LA 13 (via LA 370).
• Several sites adjacent to the proposed service road connecting LA 13 and LA 1111 (Tower Road). Of this site Black said, “It has a lot of potential,”
if the service road is completed. He suggested parish leaders “should push” their legislative delegation for the service road.
• Approximately 30 to 35 acres north of Rayne and bounded by LA 367 and LA 35.
• Approximately 51 acres adjacent to the Duson Industrial Park north of I-10.
• More than 70 acres on LA 95 East surrounding three sides of the truck stop/casino. Black pointed out this in the only site currently for sale, though the owners are not sure if they want to be annexed into the Town of Duson.
Though all northern sites offered better highway access, the availability of large amounts of water and sewer services were cited as “major concerns.”
Specifically, Black pointed out the Chicot Aquifer is the sole source of water in Acadia Parish and parts of Calcasieu, Evangeline and Jeff Davis Parish.
Rice irrigation on 610,000 acres in the region annually consumes 1.8 billion gallons of water, with one-half of irrigation needs normally provided by rain.
Black noted seasonal water consumption, coupled with drought, could increase concerns about saltwater intrusion and declining water levels in the aquifer.
Additionally, water companies serving the rural areas of the parish, though willing to consider providing service to an economic development site even on a cost-sharing base, do experience drops in water pressure during peak usage periods.
Providing sewer treatment was also cited as a major concern, unless it can be provided by neighboring municipalities.
An alternative, discussed by Black, was building “constructed wetlands, for wastewater treatment. Wetland systems act as filters by using natural processes, involving wetland vegetation, soils and microbial action, to improve water quality.
The Taimerica experts indicated the two Duson area sites might be the easiest to develop because the Town of Duson has “sufficient excess water and sewer capacity.”
The price tag for developing industry-ready sites was put at about $26,000 per acre, excluding of the cost of land.
Acquiring agricultural land was estimated at $2,500 to $3,500 per acre, while land with good highway access was priced at $3,500 to $5,000 per acre.
Other associated costs included roadway construction, $250 per linear foot plus fees and water lines, $18 per linear foot, with each fire hydrant costing $5,000. Prices were varied for sewer lines or package plant systems or constructed wetland systems.
During the July workshop, to be led by Dr. David Kolzow, the committee will be asked to develop a shared vision and priorities for future development.
The results will be incorporated into a written strategic plan, which will be used by the Police Jury, other appropriate agencies and organizations.