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Industrial park has city leaders excited

Despite rainy weather and a cold evening, more than 30 members of the community and local governments visited the former Honeywell property Wednesday for a glimpse of the future industrial and commercial park.

City Council's Industrial and Commercial Development Committee hosted a public meeting in a building already on the property. Councilman Brent Pyles chairs the committee. Councilmen John Elam and Bob Isaac serve on the committee.

"It gives you the opportunity to see it in a different light when you are out here," Pyles said of the property. "It is a lot bigger than it looks.

"This building is virtually untouched," Pyles said referring to the new 5,000 square-foot building already on the property.

City officials labored for more than three years to purchase the site, and the deal was finalized in August. The city received state grants for $225,000 of the $375,000 property.

Tentatively called the South Ironton Industrial Park, the 40-acre site formerly Allied Signal and Honeywell, is located at 3330 S. Third St. The official name is still in discussion and has been "one of the tougher things (to determine) because it will be here forever," Mayor Bob Cleary said.

Visitors were able to drive through the park and also view possible plans for it. Council, the mayor and everyone involved agreed that it was an exciting day for the city and that everyone involved worked hard to make it happen.

"We owe a debt of gratitude to the previous council members for their foresight," Elam said.

Mayor Cleary agreed that it was a team effort, from Governor Taft's office on down.

"We are real excited. Council has been totally supportive," he said. "I cannot say enough of all the people who have worked with us."

Cleary said negotiations are almost completed with the Ohio Department

of Transportation, who has agreed to purchase 8.5 acres and relocate its maintenance facility.

John F. Hagan, ODOT District Nine deputy director, said the department is excited to get a new garage at a good location.

"This site is kind of ideal for us," he said. "We looked all over, and we decided we want to stay in Ironton."

They hope to start construction by the end of June. Funding for the project has been allocated in the 2002 fiscal budget ending in June, Hagan said.

Cleary stuck with his original prediction that the site could easily accommodate more than 1,200 jobs if developed properly.

He illustrated how three buildings could be constructed to provide more than enough room. The city hopes to attract both commercial and industrial businesses to the park, Cleary said.

Phase one of the infrastructure project within the park will be building a road connecting Sixth and Third streets. The city may also put a traffic light on Third Street and eliminate the one at the corner of Lorain Street, Cleary said.

Property along Third Street and another acre and a half section at the far edge of the park will be used for commercial businesses such as fast food, gas stations and other service industries. Several people have shown interest, Cleary said.

"We now have a site with a lot of potential for the city of Ironton and Lawrence County," he said.

Utilities will have to be installed after determining what type of business would be using the site, but it will not be a problem because gas, water and electric is already on either side of the property, Cleary said.

Funding for the infrastructure could come from ARC Grants and Community Development Block Grants as well as other funding methods, Ralph Kline, Community Development Coordinator for the Lawrence County Community Action Organization.

Lawrence County Commissioner Paul Herrell, Judy Newman, field representative for Rep. Ted Strickland, City Engineer Joe McCallister, Fire Chief Tom Runyon, Dan Bolender, owner of Ice Creek Land Company with property on either side, Jerry Rowe, Upper Township trustee and the majority of council were among those in attendance.