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IDA, school board to work on land deal for bus shop
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The Effingham Industrial Development Authority is preparing an offer for the board of education for land in the IDA’s Research Forest Tract.

The school board approached the IDA last year about property for a bus maintenance facility. John Henry met with Superintendent Randy Shearouse and school system director of administrative services Slade Helmly earlier this month and requested a terms sheet from the school system.

The school board was looking for 25 acres off Hodgeville Road, but the IDA is looking at the northwest corner of the 2,700-acre tract closer to Blue Jay Road.

“They already have plans, and they are ready to move,” Henry said.

Originally, the IDA and the school system talked about land closer to Blandford Elementary School. The IDA’s master plan calls for two recreational parcels to surround the school, totaling about 100 acres, along with executive offices.
Shearouse said the school system wants something more centrally located for its schools.

“That’s just a better location for us,” he said. “Originally, we thought about building at the current transportation facility, but we’ve outgrown that. It’s just not really built for our maintenance guys and transportation folks to co-exist in one building.”

The corner parcel the IDA has in mind for the bus maintenance facility is in an area reserved for commercial development.

“We’re now looking at something closer to Blue Jay Road,” Henry said. “It won’t be near residential areas.”

The school board has asked that the land have water and sewer available and have access to a road.

“We want to move as quickly as we can,” Shearouse said, adding he is hopeful the school board and the IDA can come to an agreement.

The school system has a design for the maintenance facility, and it may eventually build a new transportation facility.

“We wouldn’t have to travel so far, and it would be centrally located to the schools,” Shearouse said.

The IDA has discussed, off and on, its plans for the Research Forest Tract, which Henry has called a “legacy” project, something that will be 20 years in the making. But they also don’t want to have their plans sit idle and think the deal with the school board can help push things along.

“It’s going to help the rest of the development getting them on the ground,” IDA member Charles Hinely said.