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Research Forest plans in the works
IDA still considering use of 'legacy' project
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Effingham County Industrial Development Authority members don’t want the plans for the Research Forest Tract to languish.

The IDA’s massive deal with DP Partners for its two tracts straddling I-16 and a flurry of recent prospect activity have kept the IDA staff busy. But a request from the Effingham County Board of Education has spurred the IDA to take another look at what it has in mind for the 2,700 acres.

“Research Forest has had to be on the back burner the last couple months,” IDA Chief Executive Officer John Henry said.

Said IDA Vice-Chairman Chap Bennett: “I-16 has been a concentration (for the IDA) and will continue to be.”

Research Forest became a topic when IDA members discussed again the school board’s request for land for a bus maintenance facility on the west side of the Research Forest Tract.

“They need a bus maintenance facility sooner rather than later,” Henry said.

Henry hasn’t discussed the school system’s request at length with Superintendent Randy Shearouse or other school board officials.

Access to the Research Forest Tract may be an issue, and IDA members pondered how that could be accomplished.

“The first thing is transportation routes,” Bennett said. “We’ve got to access (Highway) 21. It’s not going to be easy or things are going to be more expensive.”

Said IDA member David Carter: “The access is going to be dwindling.”

Board member Charles Hinely said the IDA needs to get the county, Rincon and the state on board and see what Rincon can do about access across the railroad tracks.

“That is Rincon’s next commercial area,” he said.

There is a potential for a greenway from Hodgeville Road to the railroad tracks, and Hinely said the state looks favorably upon providing healthy alternatives, such as walking trails.

“If you get something to get people in shape, they smile at that,” he said.

The IDA may ask Hussey, Gay, Bell and DeYoung for quarterly updates on Research Forest planning.