• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

EDA moves to keep Lakeshore Learning

After a series of hastily-called meetings, Lakeshore Learning Materials completed the purchase of 41.981 acres at Midway Station for $2,099,050 Tuesday afternoon, according to Woodford Economic Development Authority Chairman (EDA) John Soper. The EDA will keep $30,000 per-acre of that money, with the rest going to developer Dennis Anderson, who has an option to buy property at Midway Station. The EDA's share will go towards retiring the $4.7 million debt on the industrial park. The governor's office announced in late August that Lakeshore Learning Materials will open a distribution center next year at Midway Station and hire 262 workers. The news release included praise for the family-owned company from Gov. Matt Bevin and the state and local officials who lured it with a variety of tax breaks and other assistance. However, it appears that company officials didn't realize until recently that Midway Station didn't have a natural gas line suitable for its purposes. Company officials did not return a Monday call asking for comment. On Sept. 30, the Midway City Council held a special meeting to discuss the matter and went into executive session. After the executive session, the council voted unanimously to authorize Mayor Grayson Vandegrift to consult all interested parties in furthering the Lakeshore deal. Friday, the EDA unanimously approved a resolution to approve the release of $300,000 held in escrow to pay a portion of the $2.8 million cost to bring a six-inch gas line from the Toyota plant in Georgetown to Midway Station. The money would have otherwise been used to reimburse Lakeshore for heating the 500,000 square-feet plant with propane, Soper said. Soper said Columbia Gas has agreed to pay $700,000 of the $2.8 million, and the Midway City Council Monday unanimously voted to use tax dollars generated by Lakeshore to reimburse the company by $450,000 over five years. The remainder of the cost to bring natural gas there - about $1.35 million - will be supplied by a state economic development bond grant, Soper said. After the meeting, Soper was asked when the company learned of the natural gas issues at Midway Station. "It was very clear there was a two-inch gas line across (I-64, the Weems property, where McDonald's is located), but a two-inch gas line would never serve a facility like that, and we had told their consultants early of what American Howa was doing with propane. And we'd also told them where we were, trying to work with Columbia Gas to get gas there, but they went ahead and made their decision, and then as they got into the building process, they realized it was very critical for them to have it, so that's what sped the situation up ." Soper said. Soper added that Columbia Gas will probably bring in a six- or eight-inch line from Toyota's Georgetown plant, and that it was cheaper for the utility to do that because the existing two-inch line (the size a house uses) from Midway is too small to serve Lakeshore or another heavy user. EDA Attorney Bill Moore said the company was anxious for the agreements and hoped to close this week on the purchase of 41.981 acres for $2,099,050. Soper said the EDA will keep $30,000 per-acre of that money, with the rest going to developer Dennis Anderson, who has an option to buy property at Midway Station. The EDA's share will go towards retiring the $4.7 million debt on the industrial park. Moore said the deal to keep Lakeshore includes the EDA signing a contract with Homer Freeny Jr. for an option to purchase two tracts totaling 33 acres northwest of the Lakeshore site for future expansion. As that land is not in Midway Station, the EDA will assist in the process of expanding the city's urban service boundary and annexing and rezoning (from agricultural to industrial) the land. Those moves will require approval from the Midway City Council and the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning Commission. In other action: . The EDA unanimously approved a resolution to sell 22 acres of the Roach property and use the proceeds to reimburse Midway for its share of the cost of bringing natural gas to Midway Station. . EDA Executive Director Craig McAnelly and members Gene Hornback and Glen Kelly were absent.

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