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County eyes former 3M plant

Officials might use water and sewer permits to extend services

Officials might use water and sewer permits to extend services

November 30, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. - Jefferson County government officials are considering purchasing parts of a former printing plate plant in Middleway, W.Va., and using them to expand public water and sewer services, and to add new fire department facilities and possibly new recreation areas.

The plant, which is owned by Eastman Kodak Co., had its own water and sewer treatment facilities. County officials said they may be able to use the permits for those systems to extend much-needed water and sewer service to residents in the area.

Representatives of the Jefferson County Commission, the Jefferson County Public Service District and the Jefferson County Health Department toured the plant Wednesday morning to get a closer look.

There have been three offers to purchase the plant, which is on the market for about $6.5 million. Whoever buys it might not be interested in using all parts of the plant, officials said.

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The plant's water and sewer treatment facilities need to be upgraded, but a private entity could not get government grants to pay for the work, said Commission member Jim Surkamp, who toured the plant with Commission President Greg Corliss.

The county could get grants for the work, Surkamp said.

"All the pieces fit together in a very interesting way. Everybody could win on this," Surkamp said.

The plant, a longtime producer of printing plates, at one time was owned by 3M.

The plant employed more than 250 people at times and later was owned by companies Spectratech and Creo Inc.

Creo sold the plant to the Eastman Kodak Co.

The property covers 270 acres and includes a body of water known as Lake Louise, 325,000 square feet of space under roof and a natural gas line.

County officials want to find a way to expand central sewer service in the Middleway area because there has been a problem with failing septic tanks and because some water wells are contaminated.

County officials also are interested in establishing a fire department and ambulance station in the Middleway area.

County officials looked at a building at the plant as a possible location for a fire station, but Corliss said Wednesday that he thinks the building would not be suitable. Perhaps a fire station could be built somewhere on the plant property, Corliss said.

Although there has been some excitement over the plant's potential benefits for the county, a county sewer service official said Wednesday that there are many issues to consider.

Susanne Lawton, general manager of the Jefferson County Public Service District, said the sewer treatment plant would have to be upgraded to serve area homes. Officials said during the meeting the that sewer treatment plant was primarily used for a chemical process and upgrades would be needed to process municipal waste.

"It would need quite a bit of money. I don't know how much, but it would be millions," said Lawton, who toured the plant.

The water treatment plant also would need upgrades, Lawton said.

Lawton said the permits the plant possesses to run a water and sewer treatment plant would be valuable to the public service district because they are hard to come by.

County officials said parts of the plant property could be used for county recreation programs. The ideas were expected to be presented Wednesday night to the Jefferson County Parks and Recreation Commission.

No prices have been developed if the county decides to purchase only parts of the plant, Surkamp said.

The plant is being marketed by C.B. Richard Ellis Inc., a worldwide real estate firm.

John Skoglin, vice president of C.B. Richard Ellis, told county officials that whoever buys the plant might be interested in working with the county on different uses. For example, the owner might lease a building to the county for a fire station, Skoglin said.

"It could be a positive all the way around," Skoglin said.

Skoglin said most of the people who have looked at the plant are developers and are interested in possibly dividing the property and leasing it to different tenants.

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