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Next phase of Bath business park should be ‘shovel ready’ by fall

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Next phase of Bath business park should be ‘shovel ready’ by fall

BATH — The second phase of one of the city's prime job-creation engines should be "shovel ready" with lots to sell by this fall, officials said last week.

Bath has chosen Harry C. Crooker & Sons to do the site work and infrastructure development on the next phase of the Wing Farm Business Park. The contract will be signed by June 20, City Manager Bill Giroux said. Crooker's bid was for $970,000.

By the time the company's work is completed, six lots in phase two – comprising 27 acres – should have utilities in place. Much of the ledge will be ground up and processed and used to level the land for construction of buildings and roads.

The project is already permitted, having had city subdivision review and received approval from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. Each site, however, will have to undergo site plan review.

A bond of up to $2 million has been issued for the project. The borrowing pays for the property on which Wing Farm will expand, as well as the necessary infrastructure to prepare the site for new businesses.

Payback will come from revenues from the Wing Farm/Bath Iron Works tax increment financing district, which the council approved in February 2008. The BIW portion comes from part of the shipyard's recently completed Ultra Hall.

The city is also hoping the federal Economic Development Administration will provide a grant of $1.7 million, $300,000 of which would go toward the second phase of Wing Farm, Assessor and Assistant City Manager Paul Mateosian said. The rest would be applied to a third phase, in West Bath.

Bath could complete phase two without that money, Giroux said, although Mateosian that would be a stretch.

Phase three is planned to include eight lots. The first phase, which includes operations such as Gagne Foods, Custom Composite and Midcoast Maine Community Action, has had six lots and created about 150 jobs.

"We're hopeful that we'll get, over a period of time, at least as many jobs as we have up there now," Mateosian said.

Giroux added that "this is a job creation project. ... We're losing jobs at the (Brunswick) naval air station, and Bath Iron Works has shrunk over the last 20 years, and so we're trying to fill some of that gap with this."

Echoing that point, Mateosian said, "we've been pushing this project hard, and we've been pushing it with our own resources, with the EDA resources, because it really is an important part of retooling this local area economy."

The city is not looking for warehouse or retail uses there, Giroux said, but rather offices with professional jobs, or light manufacturing.

"Since we own the lots, we'll be able to ... look at the use carefully before we sell the lot," Mateosian said.

The city is planning a marketing initiative in July or August, Giroux said.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.