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f/8 and Be There
Fred Lynch

Land acquired to build SEMO Port

Posted Monday, August 6, 2018, at 12:00 AM

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Aug. 15, 1979 Southeast Missourian

Viewed as a major breakthrough for industrial development between Scott City and Cape Girardeau, Regional Port Authority chairman C.W. "Woody" Rushing signs a lease for 200 acres of land from Westlake Quarry and Materials. Representing Westlake during the Tuesday afternoon ceremonies at Gray's Point on the Cape-Scott County line near Scott City is Del Witt, left. Also observing the lease signing is commission member A.J. Seyer and Charles Clodfelter, executive director of the two county Regional Port Authority. (Phil Nash photo)

Lease opens door for industrial complex

By Philip Nash

Missourian Staff Writer

GRAY'S POINT - The acquisition of 200 acres of industrial land from Westlake Quarry and Materials here Tuesday by the Southeast Missouri Regional Port Authority has opened the door for what officials predicted "will develop into the largest industrial complex in Missouri."

Initially, the 50-year lease, which contains two 25-year renewable periods and a deferred payment clause, meets federal requirements on industrial sites and unlocks federal funds needed for actual development.

It also gives the port authority actual property to show prospective industrial tenants, something they have not had previously.

"We have lost several good industries in the past two years because we did not have any property to show them," executive director of the port authority, Charles Clodfelter, said.

"Now this has changed. We have something we can show them," he added.

The port authority has been in discussion with a firm for the past several months which would like to build a large coal and grain terminal here.

"We can now get specific with them," Clodfelter stated.

"I can foresee a time when this entire area between Scott City and Cape Girardeau is filled with industry," Melvin Glueck, representing the Scott County Court, predicted.

"We have it all, right here. We have the river. We have I-55 and railroads and the airport, and I predict this will develop into the largest industrial area in the state," he told officials who had gathered for the lease signing ceremonies Tuesday afternoon.

Adding to the optimism, State Rep. Jerry Ford of Cape Girardeau told the group they could look for more financial support and cooperation from state government than they have had in the past.

"The state's position now is, develop the river. There is statewide attention focused on this part of the state right now because of the river and the amount of undeveloped land here," he stated.

Reiterating Rep. Ford's pledge of state support here for the development of the Mississippi River commercially and help for industrial expansion, was Rhonda Beckham, director of Missouri Waterways, a division of the Missouri Department of Transportation.

"The governor's office and my department are very excited about what is going on here today," she said. "And, we know that this is just the beginning."

Even though the signing of the property lease Tuesday with Westlake Quarry is viewed as "a major key to the industrial development of the Scott-Cape County area," by port authority officials, they also point out that "there is a lot of work yet to be done, and it will require a lot of money."

The next step for the regional port authority is the development of specific plans for the development of the 200-acre site leased from Westlake Quarry, and the approval of the Ozark Regional Commission at Little Rock, Arkansas.

Those plans must include engineering data and plans for the construction of docking facilities, warehouses and other buildings, plus environmental impact information for the site.

Following ORC approval, actual construction of the facility can begin.

One of the important factors in the lease acquisition of the Westlake site, officials agreed, is that the land is located on the Scott-Cape Girardeau county line with nearly an equal amount of property in each county.

This is viewed by the commission as minimizing any potential charges of favoritism toward one county or the other.

Construction of docks and other facilities is expected to begin in 1980, completely operational by 1983 and self sufficient by 1986, at a cost of an estimated $2.5 million, Clodfelter said.

The site will be sub-divided into 10 and 20 acre industrial tracts and leased to tenants by the port authority.

"We have saved at least two years of time by leasing this property because Westlake has built up this 10 acres of property and we won't have to do anything to it, except build," Clodfelter said.

"On any other site, we would have had the delays of environmental impact studies and the actual land filling to accomplish before we could build anything," he said.

"The environmental impact on this site is minimal and the ground is ready for us," he said.

"What we have saved, in terms of time and money, by locating here first, we can only guess at," he told The Missourian.

"What we can say, is that we have bought a lot of time and by developing this site first, we can have actual users here and income to begin the development of the other sites near Cape Girardeau," he said.

"We have opened the door to vast industrial potential here. And, I believe that growth will continue for generations," he predicted.

"We are looking at millions of dollars in construction over the next several years and thousands of jobs.

"I think we have the potential here for growth beyond that of any other region in the state, or the river, for that matter," he stated.

"The signing of this lease today is a very major step for us," port authority commission member, A.J. Seyer, stated.

"This is an extremely equitable lease, and comes at a very good time for us and retains public confidence in what we are trying to accomplish," he said.

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