Gering Council approves industrial park project

Crossroads Cooperative Association will soon be expanding its operations on East U Street in Gering into the new Pioneer Trails Industrial Park. At Monday's Gering City Council meeting, members approved a proposal for Crossroads to become the first business to open in the industrial park.

Most of Monday’s Gering City Council meeting was taken up with approvals and authorizations for Crossroads Cooperative to begin a project to expand its new grain handling facility into the Pioneer Trails Industrial Park.

The first item was to approve the sale of Block 8 of the industrial park to Crossroads for $8,600 per acre, or a total price of $407,000 for the 44-acre block.

“This is the first property we’re selling in the industrial park,” said Gering city engineer Annie Folck. “We’re selling it for the same amount we originally paid for it. We’re excited because this is a major expansion for Crossroads Coop.”

The expansion is estimated to cost about $9.8 million, with more than $7 million of that coming from private funds. Gering is also providing Tax Increment Financing and LB 840 economic development funding as incentives to help the project.

“We’ve been working with Crossroads Coop for about 10 months on this project,” said Gering Mayor Tony Kaufman. “It’s a great example of private-public partnerships and what we can do together to enhance our community and position it for growth.”

With the OK for Crossroads to purchase the land from Gering, a development agreement needed to be approved. It spells out what improvements the undeveloped property will need and which party will be responsible for providing them.

Crossroads will be responsible for extending an 8-inch water main from 3rd Street past the property to be developed and to the remainder of the industrial park. Gering will pick up the cost of oversizing the main to 12 inches, as required in the city’s new comprehensive code book.

“Whenever land is subdivided in Gering, we require that utilities be extended to all those properties,” Folck said. “We need to hold ourselves to the same standards, so we’re extending utility hookups to the entire industrial park so all properties have equal access.”

Folck added that having hookups through the entire industrial site will make it more attractive for companies that are considering building there.

Those expenses won’t occur in the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. They will be considered when next year’s budget is assembled.

Crossroads will also be responsible for the cost of installing a retention pond for stormwater runoff, as required by the state.

By state law, the city can’t close on the property sale without a 30-day remonstrance period to allow for public comment and for the ordinance to be read three times into the public record.

“Crossroads Coop is eager to get construction started,” Folck told council members. “Wheat harvest is coming up fast and they want to be set up to handle the fall harvest as well.”

Crossroads has requested to get an early start on some of the work with things such as surveying, soil testing and earth work. That could be accomplished via ordinance through a right of entry agreement between the two parties.

“Staff is asking you to approve this so Crossroads can stay on their tight timeline to keep the project on track,” Folck said.

Finally, council members approved a request from Crossroads for LB 840 funding. It includes a $50,000 grant and $10,000 each for four new full time equivalent positions and $5,000 each for two existing positions.

In addition, a $450,000 grant would be used toward public works improvements.

Jerry Purvis is a reporter with the Star-Herald. He can be reached at 308-632-9046 or emailed at jpurvis@starherald.com.

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