The city of Abilene once advertised free land in its industrial park.
The sign that once could be seen from Interstate 70 is still there but on the ground, City Manager Jane Foltz told the Abilene City Commission at its study session Monday.
The free land issue was revitalized Monday when Chuck Scott, director of the Dickinson County Economic Development Corporation reported that three companies were looking at the lots in Abilene’s northwest sector.
“There have been a lot of good things happening in Abilene,” Foltz said. “We aren’t at liberty to share companies but we have had interest in two parcels of land that the city owns in the northwest industrial area.”
“We are starting to see increased interest in Abilene as a whole,” Scott said. “Some of it is manufacturing and industrial and I would like to push it in that direction since that meets the zoning.”
Foltz said the city purchased 20 acres in 2003 which is just off 14th Street that abuts Russell Stover to the southeast.
“That land has just sat out there,” she said. “I think it was our vision as a city to make that an industrial area.”
She said that parcel has been listed in the past as free land.
The other parcel just east was once being considered by Bradford Built over a year ago, which is again being looked at by a separate project.
“My question to you all, as a city commission, just where are we at on the 20 acres?” she asked.
There is a street that is platted on the property line.
Scott said the company has been in discussion of expanding for over a year.
“They were looking for something in the city or near the city limits so this was a opportunity for us to discuss city property along 14th Street,” Scott said.
He said the business is looking at five to 10 acres of land.
Scott said there has been no discussion about pricing. He said the zoning would fit the expansion.
“Before they go further making a proposal, working with engineers, I thought it was a good opportunity to engage the city and proactively have a conversation about what do we want to do with that land,” he said.
He said another business was looking for more than 10 acres and was looking at the property to the east.
“I am trying to work all those parities together if we can,” Scott said.
Foltz said all the utilities are already readily available.
“Its doing nothing,” said Commissioner Dee Marshall of the land.
“Make it productive,” said Commissioner Trevor Witt.
Foltz said she was still researching the free land. She said there are some incentives such as number of employees and the cost of the investment tied to the free land that were written in 2008.
“I think the answer is yes. Proceed,” said Commissioner Tim Shafer.
The city could also be looking at constructing a road, Foltz said.
“That street is platted between the two properties off 14th Street,” she said.
“I’m not willing to look at a road until I see what they have to offer,” Marshall said.
Foltz said there are about a dozen properties within the city of Abilene that the city owns.
“We have a number of properties that are no longer necessary,” she said. “Some of those properties are in the middle of fields. Some are properties that are important because they are along the flood levees. We wouldn’t touch those.”
She is looking at making a list of those properties that are no longer necessary.
“We aren’t sure why the city acquired these properties,” she said. “Why not get those properties back on the tax rolls?”
Bids on street improvements on Eighth Street from Washington to Van Buren came in under the estimate.
“This is good news. This was a good bidding environment,” said City Engineer Mark Bachamp. “We had five bidders, very attractive, all good companies.”
“Staff was very happy,” Foltz said.
J & K Contracting from Junction City was the lowest bidder at $1,140,262.55. The city bonded for $1.5 million.
J & K Contracting is working in Abilene replacing the lights downtown.
Public Works Director Lon Schrader said the lowest bidder is the team that paved N.W. 11th in front of Eisenhower Elementary.
Bachamp said what brought the cost down was finding a way to provide another access to the recycling center.
“We don’t have to worry about sequencing, not have to worry about the public getting in to access the site. It’s a half mile straight shot of paving,” he said.
Not having the traffic to redirect helped keep the cost down.
The bids included:
• J & K Contracting, $1,140,262.55;
• Vogts Parga Construction, $1,223,902.90;
• Bayer Construction, $1,362,409.60;
• T & M Concrete Construction, $1,167,504.78;
• Smoky Hill, $1,467,154.37.
Mayer Chris Ostermann said she received comments on the city spending money for the Eisenhower Legacy Trip.
She said the city committed to the trip with representatives of Denison, Texas, Dwight D. Eisenhower’s birthplace, 18 months ago.
“We felt that we were already in a commitment,” she said.
The Abilene City Commission approved on a 5-0 vote sending two staff members and the mayor to the dedication of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, D.C. from May 4 to 9 and to stipend 50 percent of the trip to additional commissioners.
Foltz also introduced Clinton Franey as the director of Planning and Zoning.
Contact Tim Horan at firstname.lastname@example.org