The Athens City Council is set to consider action to provide the final piece of the funding puzzle for development of a clearing and grading plan at the Mt. Verd Industrial Park.

The industrial park, located on Highway 305 just west of Interstate 75, is subdivided into eight lots — only one of which is currently occupied by Adler Pelzer Athens.

The McMinn County Economic Development Authority (MCEDA) is compiling funding to prepare a site clearing and grading plan to develop an additional site in the industrial park in hopes of attracting another industry.

MCEDA Executive Director Kathy Price attended Monday’s Council study session to give a final overview of the scope and cost of this preliminary plan. If approved by the Council, the request from MCEDA is for the City of Athens to allocate $19,033 — equal to one-third of the cost of the plan. The total cost would be shared between Athens, McMinn County and Athens Utilities Board (AUB). Both McMinn County and AUB have already agreed to the funding request.

“We’re ready to sign the contracts on Mt. Verd as soon you all make a decision,” said Price.

The scope of services for the plan will include:

• Preparation of construction documents for “rough grading” of a future building pad(s).

• Preparation and submittal of Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) addressing access, water, sanitary sewer and electric services to the proposed development, including an estimate of probable project costs.

• Securing of permits necessary to implement rough grading efforts.

• Bidding and construction administration.

“My goal is — if we get this down the path, we get the due diligence studies done and a grading plan, then I go for certification — next year … we will go for a Site Development Grant from the State of Tennessee to try to help cost share on any clearing and grading we might do and maybe even (pursue) TVA Invest Prep (money) to do some matching dollars,” explained Price.

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development defines McMinn County as a Tier 3 community, which means any monies potentially allocated by the state for site development at Mt. Verd would require just a 10 percent local match.

“We want to, at least, at Mt. Verd do some rough grading so it shows (to prospective industries) better, but not necessarily do a pad-ready site,” said Price.

Typically, a pad-ready site is ready for a building to be placed on it, with all utilities installed, main parking lots completed, and a reasonable elevation for the finished building slab.

According to Price, other communities have developed pad-ready sites only to see the land sit idle because the pad doesn’t conform with the specifications of a particular industry.

“It could hurt you,” added Athens Mayor Chuck Burris, regarding the development of a pad-ready site.

Price noted that additional grading can be performed later on pad-ready sites to meet the needs of a prospective new industry.

“It’s a little bit difficult sometimes because you don’t know what that end user is going to look like,” said Price.

Council members strongly indicated at the study session they will support the allocation to develop the grading plan at Mt. Verd when it comes to vote on Tuesday.

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