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Jefferson County cools on purchase of former 3M plant

May 07, 2007|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County government officials say they have backed off on the idea of purchasing parts of an Eastman Kodak Co. plant in Middleway, W.Va.

The plant off Grace Street has its own water and sewage treatment facilities and county officials have said they might be able to use the permits for those systems to extend much-needed sewer and water service to residents in the Middleway area.

The property stretches over 270 acres and includes a body of water known as Lake Louise, which provides water to the plant, 325,000 square feet of space under roof and a natural gas line.

Although the county probably would not be interested in acquiring the entire site, parts of the property might be a good location for a school or parks and recreation programs, Jefferson County Commissioner Greg Corliss has said.

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But Corliss said Sunday there does not seem to be consensus among the other commissioners about possibly buying parts of the plant.

Part of the concern is cleaning up sections of the industrial site, Corliss said.

"There's too many problems with the purchase. We've got enough on our plate without taking that on," Corliss said.

Commissioner Jim Surkamp also has reservations about the county purchasing parts of the plant. Surkamp said the cleanup of the property would probably eliminate any possibility of new schools on the site.

Corliss said the site is probably big enough to have two or three schools.

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

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

Creo then sold the plant to the Eastman Kodak Co., which has decided to sell the plant for about $6 million, county officials have said.

Officials said previously that there were six potential buyers of the site. Although the six interested parties wanted to purchase the entire site, an official with a real-estate firm marketing the property said he thinks the parties would be willing to work with the county on different uses of the property.

The number of potential buyers has been reduced to two, Surkamp said Sunday.

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