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Environmental study funding to be pursued for airport project

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The Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency is seeking funding for environmental studies needed to develop land for a corporate business park at Watertown International Airport near Dexter.

The agency owns more than 80 acres of land for the park planned east of the airport’s taxiway, CEO Donald C. Alexander told the Loan Review Committee on Tuesday. Staff has met with planners from Jefferson County and the town of Hounsfield since February to develop a strategic business plan for the park, hiring consultant David L. Mosher for $30,000 to guide the four-month process.

Mr. Alexander will outline projected costs to complete environmental studies at the park at the agency’s board of directors meeting May 2. The agency’s staff is seeking grant funding for the completion of that work, he said, which will include testing for flora and endangered species.

“We’ve been working on the 30,000-foot view of the project and now need to decide where we go from here,” he said. “Eventually, we’ll have to start hiring people. We believe the park can be both a transportation and economic development hub and hope the project will be significant enough to get funding.”

The agency is close to purchasing additional parcels from property owners that would bring its holdings to about 100 acres, Mr. Alexander said, enough room for 20 businesses if they take up five acres each. The project is expected to cost $3 million to $4 million at minimum, he said, and planners may elect to seek private funding in addition to state grants.

Preliminary work to be completed includes the creation of a sewer district, installation of water and sewer infrastructure, and access roads.

Mr. Alexander added that he’s spoken with two companies that expressed interest in locating at the park, if the multiyear project takes shape. Representatives from the agency, county and town plan to finish the strategic business plan for the park by June.

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