Pieces falling in place for industrial park near New Carlisle
St. Joseph County is making strides to develop an industrial park in this area, where workers will soon finish putting in water and sewer lines. The $4.35 million infrastructure project — projected to be done by the end of this month — is viewed by county officials as key to the effort in the rural area, located east of New Carlisle in Olive Township.
The goal is to eventually transform hundreds of vacant acres into a business hub. Some businesses have already expressed interest in moving into the area, and one is expected to start seeking approval for a project this summer, said Bill Schalliol, the county's economic development director. "We're taking leads for several industrial and commercial projects of different sizes," said Schalliol, who declined to identify prospects.
The water and sewer lines will span about 2.5 miles, covering a portion of U.S. 20 and Walnut Road. The large sewer line is needed by the St. Joseph Energy Center, a natural gas-fired power plant under construction at the northwest corner of Walnut and Edison roads. That is why the company, which plans to open its plant next summer, agreed to cover the nearly $2 million cost to install the sewer line. The county covered the remaining cost of the $4.35 million infrastructure project, paying for the water line and a conduit line that will be needed to install a fiber-optic line for broadband internet. That funding came from $9 million in bonds sold by the county, which will be paid back over 20 years with property taxes collected in the industrial area.
The county also plans to use bond money to build a rail spur south from the Norfolk-Southern Railroad and realign the Niespodziany Ditch along a new utilities corridor so that it doesn't cross sites that could be attractive to businesses. Studies are now being done to determine the path for the spur and ditch. The county needs to acquire about 150 acres for the rail and ditch projects, Schalliol said, and it hopes to do that in the next half year. Eventually, the county hopes to gain control of roughly 1,000 acres for businesses to set up shop.
Road work to complement effort
Lots of road work, meanwhile, will be done in the coming months by the Indiana Department of Transportation in the New Carlisle area. Though the work isn't directly tied to the county's park project, it will complement the effort. A short section of U.S. 20 that runs below a railroad viaduct — between Marvel Lane and South Race Street — was closed Monday for a repaving project that is expected to be done in a month.
INDOT will also soon complete a larger project along U.S. 20 that calls for repaving a 10-mile section east from the LaPorte-St. Joseph County line to the intersection of U.S. 31. The $4 million project is expected to start in June and conclude by early July. The timing of that road project was planned by INDOT so that it would be done after county's water and sewer lines are put in, Schalliol said. He believes the road work will be another perk for businesses eyeing the area. "Having a fresh, new asphalt ribbon going through the corridor and new utilities will help us bring new projects to the area," he said.
Story credit to Ted Booker, South Bend Tribune (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Photo credit to Santiago Flores, South Bend Tribune