Project evolves slowly

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

PROCTORVILLE — A massive economic development project planned along the Ohio River in eastern Lawrence County got a much-needed financial shot in the arm, but developers say the project is moving a little bit slower than they had anticipated.

The RiverWalk project, expected to cost between $110 and $130 million, was first announced early last year. Since then, developers have been scrambling to get the project off the ground.

According to developers, RiverWalk will be a multi-use, planned community that would include a marina, luxury condominiums, a hotel and convention center, a retirement community, medical and professional facilities, and industrial and shopping opportunities.

Email newsletter signup

The project — funded through a cooperative effort between government and private investments — is planned on about 135 acres of land between Indian Guyan Creek and the 31st Street Bridge in Proctorville. Dale and Carolyn Manns, who also own Superior Marine, own the land. The couple plans to operate the 385-slip marina at the site, a business which will serve as the centerpiece for the development.

RiverWalk is still very much moving in the right direction, according to Pat Clonch, consultant on the project, but things are going a little slower than anticipated.

“There are so many components to the project. Really, it’s like 10 different projects rolled into one,” said Clonch, who formerly worked as executive director of the Lawrence Economic Development Corp. and the Greater Lawrence Area Chamber of Commerce.

Applying for permits and completing other kinds of paperwork have proven to be monumental tasks, she said. Some of the paperwork has centered on the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations because a wetland in the RiverWalk area will have to be moved to build a nursing home. And, Clonch said, the landscape will have to be virtually re-created for construction to begin.

“That has been the really big delay,” Clonch said of the mountains of paperwork for the project. “There are a lot of different parts. I guess it was more than what we anticipated.”

The moving of dirt has been delayed by the amount of rain the region has had, Clonch said. She hopes initial work will begin at the site sometime next year.

The county recently was awarded $100,000 from the Industrial Site Improvement Fund to help fund infrastructure improvements at the site, including the construction of roadways, sanitary sewer and water lines.

Lt. Governor Bruce Johnson, who serves as state development director, said the RiverWalk project will provide new growth opportunities and bring in jobs to the area. It will also provide infrastructure that will benefit the entire Proctorville/Rome Township area.

Proctorville Mayor Jim Buchanan said he has not been kept up to speed on the specifics of RiverWalk, but remains cautiously optimistic about it and the benefits it will have on the community. The project is to be constructed on a tract of land on the fringes of the Proctorville village corporation limits.

He said, “It will have a big impact on this village financially. It’s really something to look forward to.”

Like Buchanan, the developers’ hopes remain high and they are excited about RiverWalk’s future, Clonch said.

“We’re determined to do this,” she said.

According to Clonch, support from local and state officials, as well as local residents, has been overwhelming.

She said, “This community is growing and we know that this project is going to mean so much to everyone involved.”