It may take 20 or more years before the Effingham Industrial Development Authority is finished with the Research Forest Tract, but there are some issues IDA members want to get resolved soon, especially access to the nearly 2,600-acre property.
“Our biggest issue in the near future is going to be access into this parcel across Highway 21,” IDA Chief Executive Officer John Henry said.
Henry said he has talked with CSX representatives about how to get across that company’s railroad lines.
Water and sewer service to the four separate parcels of the Research Forest Tract also is being considered. Rich Holman of Hussey, Gay, Bell and DeYoung, the engineering and architecture firm helping develop some of the master plan for the Research Forest Tract, pointed to a 32-inch water line along Hodgeville Road.
“We’re doing a loop system to make sure we maintain pressure at peak demands,” he said.
Holman said they have looked at master planning for sewer and water reuse, with three lift stations so the three gravity lines won’t get too deep.
IDA officials and school board representatives have talked about the potential for a bus maintenance facility at the Research Forest.
There are preliminary plans for recreation, a nature park and various industrial uses across the tract.
“We’re trying to leave as much versatility in this property as we can,” Holman said.
Henry said a lot of land use issues will be resolved by where access roads are placed.
“We have to consider Tract B as Phase I because it’s close to Highway 21,” he said. “We need to be planning that access because that access might determine the future use. We’re not going to be able to wait that long to acquire right of way.”
Henry also worried that Portuguese company EFACEC, which will setting up shop at the IDA’s Highway 21 frontage piece at the Effingham Industrial Park, may ask the development authority to find room for a spinoff company — room the IDA doesn’t have at the moment but possibly could accommodate at the Research Forest Tract.