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Price tag to spruce up business park may exceeed $3 million

Tourism director resigns

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POSTED: June 21, 2007 5:04 a.m.
The Liberty County Development Authority has taken a look at preliminary plans for landscaping and signs for its east Liberty industrial park, at an estimated cost of $3.5 million.
But all that cost shouldn’t be paid by the taxpayers. Private industrial developer and recruiter IDI, landscape designers, tenants and partners of the LCDA will pay part of the cost and the authority hopes other partners and neighbors will also help.
IDI said the plan is still very much a work in progress and its employees’ presentation last month was the first one to the LCDA, and for the purpose of getting input for future design work.
The preliminary plans include three, 20-foot high obelisks. Other plans include plantings of loblolly pines, magnolias, crepe myrtles and a variety of grasses. Native plants will be used as much possible; ones that require as little water and fertilizer as possible.
All the authority’s business did not involve cost, however. The authority’s revenue projection includes nearly $8 million to be realized from land sales.
The members hope to start the sales soon with the marketing of a piece of land LCDA owns in Walthourville near the Liberty County Airport.
Also slated for sale are parcels in Allenhurst, Midway and Riceboro.
The authority’s revenue report also shows $77,620 in miscellaneous income, but members were not entirely happy with that item. It represents half of the agreed price for some structural steel that LCDA has owned — and paid to store — for years.
The steel was purchased for a spec building to have been erected where Hugo Boss is now located. When Hugo Boss decided to invest in the Midway Industrial Park, the authority decided not to put up the spec building and eventually ended up paying $1,900 monthly to store the steel at Canoochee Creek.
The authority eventually decided to sell the steel and found a buyer who offered $150,000. This was to be paid in two installments and the steel to be removed to save the storage costs.
The first installment was paid, and the second has now been paid, but the steel remains at Canoochee Creek and the LCDA is looking at two more months of storage fees.
LCDA attorney Kelly Davis had the buyer sign a new agreement to remove the steel within 60 days.
The authority received the report on their annual independent audit performed by Karp, Ronning and Tindol, CPAs of Savannah.
The auditors found no material weaknesses in LCDA’s operations and member Brian Smith, executive vice president of the Heritage Bank, described the report as “a clean audit.”
Authority Director of Finance and Administration Carmen Cole presented a letter from SunTrust Bank providing more detail on the $30 million to be borrowed to pay for the LCDA state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant at the megapark.
Suntrust remains committed to the project and said it would loan the $30 million in three segments, $10 million each this year, in 2007, 2008 and in 2009.
The authority decided to borrow the $30 million last month in a rare split vote, with County Commission Chairman John McIver voting no.
Along with Hinesville, the county, Flemington and the authority beginning to form a new body for tourism, Downtown Development and Tourism Director Sandy White told the LCDA she is resigning.
White and her husband have sold a commercial building they owned, and she said she plans to pursue hobbies for a while.
 

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