Johnstown Independent

Johnstown's second business park could cost about $10 million

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This overlay by Columbus-based consulting firm CH2M Hill shows the proposed phases of a possible second business park in Johnstown.

Johnstown officials have taken the first step in planning what could become the village's second business park.

Village Council on Feb. 18 approved an initial budget of $12,000 to more specifically predict costs of the potential project, and engineers at Columbus-based consulting company CH2M Hill have estimated the project could cost nearly $10 million as a whole.

Village Manager Jim Lenner, who presented the idea for the park during council's Jan. 21 meeting, said the costs are high but not out of the realm of expectations.

"I wasn't sure what I was expecting," Lenner told ThisWeek. "I'm OK with those preliminary numbers. I don't think it's crazy. I don't think it's (too) high; I don't think it's low. I think it's appropriate with the amount of infrastructure needed to make that park a reality."

The needed infrastructure is a large portion of the costs estimated by CH2M Hill, and everything from surface paving to curbs and lighting has been taken into consideration in the preliminary report.

An early concept plan is to tackle the project in 12 steps, broken into three phases.

Phase 1 would address the area north of Duncan Plains Road and is estimated to cost $4,732,000.

The second phase would focus on the slightly smaller area to the south at an estimated $4,800,000.

The third phase is marked "future" and presumably would be determined after the other phases are completed.

Though a multi-million-dollar figure might scare some, Lenner said, he's happy the figure was on the high side rather than being too low and that its good to have the most expensive outcome known at the beginning.

"Since they're estimates, it's hard to make a hard and fast judgment," he said. "I think it's conservative, which is what we want. We didn't want something low and then get surprised when it comes in much higher."

Lenner said he was pleased with the findings and how thorough the report is, though he knows the project is far from getting started officially.

"I think this is a very well-organized document that lays out potential hurdles that we need to clear in order to make this a successful business park and create jobs here in the village," he said. "But it's the first step of many steps."

Lenner presented the findings to council Feb. 18, and council members are expected to return March 4 with opinions on what to do next. The priority at this point, Lenner said, is to determine how to fund the project.

"What (the plan) doesn't look at is the funding, whether that's village, county, state or federal," Lenner said. "This is more infrastructure, but we're going to have to put together a funding package, as well, because we can't purely pay for this by ourselves with just our capital improvements budget."

The road ahead will be a long one, but the project could be an important one for the future of the village, he said.

"It's a starting point," he said. "We've got a long way to go and a lot of people to talk to to make it happen."

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