The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Paducah, Kentucky
Thursday, May 23, 2002

PACRO approves $85,000 more for park
The executive committee approved money to obtain 450 more acres for a regional industrial park in Graves County.

By Joe Walker

The Paducah Area Community Reuse Organization has provided another $85,000 toward obtaining land options for a regional industrial park in the Folsomdale-Viola area of northern Graves County.

On Wednesday, the PACRO executive committee approved $45,000 to obtain 450 more acres, and $40,000 for environmental and archaeological studies, appraisal and core drilling.

The Purchase Area Regional Park Authority already has more than 1,900 acres under three-year options or committed from landowners, and is awaiting state and federal funding to buy the land.

A $175,000 federal grant through PACRO is funding the option work. Wednesday's action extended the grant until September.

The park is slated for construction off U.S. 45 in the area of Ky. 849. By comparison, the Paducah Information Age Park is on 650 acres. Beasley told the authority board earlier this month that appraisals were finished on another 100 to 120 highly desirable acres in smaller tracts.

The authority wants $10 million each from state and federal government to develop the park. Because of a tight budget, the Kentucky General Assembly adjourned earlier this year without approving money for the project and has not yet approved a state budget. Federal funding from the Department of Energy through PACRO also is pending.

Beasley said he expects to go to Washington, D.C., in early June to seek funding from the Rural Utility Service, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Hopkinsville, met earlier with officials of the service and other agencies to discuss funding options for the park.

In other action, the executive committee:

Extended a $75,000 grant until Aug. 30 to help CenterPointe, a regional marketing group, with industrial recruitment. CenterPointe has spent $58,000 of the grant contacting prospects and developing a list of candidates for area industrial parks.

Discussed uncertainty regarding which Energy Department official will oversee accelerated cleanup at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant. The department announced in February that a new job, filled by DOE headquarters’ William Murphie, was being created to manage cleanup at Paducah and its closed sister plant near Portsmouth, Ohio. He was among 27 of 70 senior environmental management executives who were reassigned from Washington to various sites nationwide to improve cleanup.

However, there is confusion whether Murphie or Michael Holland, temporary manager of DOE's operations office in Oak Ridge, Tenn., will head the program as it affects Paducah, said Henry Hodges, chairman of PACRO's facilities reuse committee.

He said the committee wants clarification because the uncertainty slows its efforts to find commercial uses for plant scrap metal and lease land around the plant for industrial purposes.

"We're not meeting until we get to a point where we can deal with these issues," Hodges said. "I don't want to appear critical, because I think they (DOE officials) are dealing with very broad policy issues for cleanup that need to be addressed. It's just that what we're working on right now is kind of caught up in it."