Cumberland Times-News

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August 1, 2013

Mineral officials considering Keyser as site for freight hub

KEYSER, W.Va. — A proposed intermodal facility could be located on roughly 33 acres of CSX property behind Martin’s Food Market in Keyser instead of in Carpendale.

A meeting with local delegates about the possibility of locating the intermodal facility in Keyser and some type of commercial business in Carpendale was postponed so that Paul Mattox Jr., secretary/commissioner of highways for the West Virginia Department of Transportation, could attend, according to County Commissioner Jerry Whisner, who serves on the Mineral County Development Authority. No date has been set for the meeting yet.

Mona Ridder, executive director of the authority, has been working to promote the idea of an intermodal facility on 300 acres of CSX property in Carpendale. However, Delegate Gary Howell has approached Carpendale Mayor Butch Armentrout about the possibility of turning the CSX property into a Tax Incremental Finance district similar to that of Cabela’s in Wheeling. The commercial business wouldn’t have to necessarily be a Cabela’s, said Whisner.

During a previous authority meeting, both Whisner and Ridder voiced concerns about a TIF district.

Cabela’s was part of a huge planned development and it took years to put it together, according to Ridder.

“They are using a TIF and it’s going to take them 30 years to pay it back,” said Ridder during the authority meeting. “Cabela’s is not just a tourist attraction and a store. I talked to the (state) development office about it and they said the intermodal facility is a much more doable project.”

Whisner said he had questions about the TIF district because projected tax increases are used to fund it and voiced concerns about how much money would come back to the county coffers.

“We might not be able to collect any taxes to put to use in the county for 30 years, the same way with the hospital,” said Whisner during the authority meeting.

Whisner said he would be in favor of the quickest money-producing option.

“To be honest with you, I don’t really care if it’s commercial or industrial as long as we get it,” said Whisner during the authority meeting.

Armentrout echoed Whisner’s sentiments, noting he is in favor of either idea but that a bridge from Carpendale to Bowling Green is necessary to bring either to fruition.

“Whatever happens, whether it’s a commercial business or an intermodal port, it’s going to benefit the town,” said Armentrout in a previous interview. “Either would be good for the community and good for the whole tri-state area. It will give us a better tax base and will give us another (road) way out.”

An intermodal facility uses two or more forms of transportation to move goods or commodities in or out of an area, according to Doug York, West Virginia Public Port Authority executive director, who has expressed an interest in the project.

An example would be the Heartland Intermodal Gateway at Prichard, where cargo is transferred from rail to trucking.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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