By Timothy Cox
An intricate proposal to relocate Alumacast is on hold as city administration officials work to craft a plan more palatable to city council members.
City council members meeting Monday tabled final readings of legislation that would have approved the deal that includes spending $375,000 to relocate Alumacast on Brandon Avenue to the Grand Lake Industrial Park and giving the company 5.75 acres of land there for $1.
With community development consultant Kent Bryan and Mayor Sharon LaRue absent from the meeting, city council members set the issue aside after little discussion. Safety-Service Director Jeff Hazel said there is new information to report regarding the Alumacast deal, but was unable to provide details. Bryan will be updating council members on the evolving project in the near future, Hazel said.
Because of the proposal's complexity, council members asked that the issue be handled separately during a special meeting so discussion is not hurried. The new information only figures to add to the complexity of the deal, councilman Chris Mohler said.
As part of the current deal, the city would move the existing 400-by-40-foot Alumacast metal building to the city sewage plant to convert it into a sludge storage facility. That would allow the eventual elimination of the open sludge lagoons along U.S. 127 between the highway and the lake. Both the Alumacast property and the sludge lagoon site then could be marketed for sale and redevelopment. The city also would save money through more efficient sludge treatment procedures, Bryan has said.
In addition to the $375,000 and the virtually free industrial park land, Alumacast also would get free utility hook-ups and a 15-year tax abatement. In return, the company would build a new 20,000-square-foot facility in the industrial park and create 10 new full-time jobs.
As proposed, the deal would cost the city nearly $900,000. About half of that could be recouped directly through the sale of land and the rest would be eventually replaced through cheaper sewage operating expenses and increased tax collections from the new jobs the project is supposed to create, city officials have said.
Several city council members have expressed concerns about the deal. They especially are worried about city ownership of the existing Alumacast property.
A concrete pad would remain once the building is moved, and city officials say they cannot afford to have the concrete broken up and hauled away. Leaving the concrete in place would decrease the marketability of the property.
Some city officials also question the viability and the costs of retrofitting the Alumacast facility to serve the wastewater department.
Because of those concerns, city officials two weeks ago asked Bryan to try to find some alternative, possibly involving another private entity in the deal. By adding another player to the mix and possibly taking the city out of owning the Alumacast site would make the deal more viable, some council members said.
"We didn't want to nix the thing ... but hopefully discussion can continue," councilman Denny Smith said.