The Lake Barkley Partnership Board of Directors hosted a meeting Thursday, Sept. 2, to discuss the Princeton Industrial Park, the 641 Connect project, and other items.
Executive Director Amanda Davenport and Chairman Tim Capps led the meeting.
The partnership is working on site development initiatives in each of the four counties it serves: Crittenden, Livingston, Lyon, and Caldwell.
“As a partnership, we work with our local governments and IDAs to make sure it’s really easy for businesses to come in,” Davenport said. “One of the biggest challenges is having the space for a business to come in that isn’t a green field.”
She said site development projects at industrial parks are designed to bring in both new, large-scale companies and stakeholders and cultivate small industrial growth that diversifies the parks’ portfolios.
During the Product Development Update, the Spec Building Committee informed the board the industrial parks have a multitude of resources primed for economic development.
“Each of the communities in our region has a different mix of resources including utility capacity, transportation infrastructure, industrial park size, environment challenges, topography, and funding,” according to the presentation.
In reporting on the Princeton Industrial Park, Davenport said small industrial growth at the park enables Caldwell County to be competitive within the region.
She noted workforce and economic development would diversify as a result.
According to the presentation, “The ideal end-user of this park will help to diversify the existing industrial base and will focus on attracting multiple smaller industries all in regional growth sectors.”
The board concluded with a discussion about the U.S. 641 project.
In another matter, Capps expressed excitement about the U.S. 641 project, saying “we look forward to someday the whole project being completed.
Keith Todd, spokesman for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, said the window for public comment on the project is closed and announced a final design contract was awarded last week. The final design component of the 641 Connect project is split into two phases, with two separate contracts.
Todd said the final design process will take 12 to 14 months, “in fall of next year we would like to have a final set of plans at which time we could begin utility and right of way phases.”
“Our hopes would be that in this next legislative budget session that we would obligate the right of way and utility phases of this project,” Todd said.
The final design introduced during the meeting on Thursday is KYTC’s final selection, confirming the advancement of the project.
Todd added KYTC has “exhausted numerous efforts” during the two-decade design process to prevent disruption to communities.
“I don’t know that I have ever seen what is perceived as a bypass, that convenient and that close to a downtown area in all my travels,” said Cook Executive Committee member Chris Cook.
Other board members and Todd agreed the final design appears to be seemingly innocuous and theorizes the project will develop Fredonia’s businesses and improve the city’s condition.
Some Fredonia and Caldwell County community members, and elected officials, oppose the project as it stands. They claim the design will be detrimental to the small community of Fredonia and Caldwell County. Last Tuesday, Caldwell County Fiscal Court passed a resolution, dissenting against the project and providing alternatives.
Fredonia Mayor Jim Seibert recently said the design poses a water infrastructure risk causing severe damage to parts of town, among other concerns.