Monday night, during the regular meeting of the Metropolis City Council, the fruition of another goal was set in motion when the council adopted a resolution of support for the MMPD in creating jobs by establishing an intermodal port in the City of Metropolis by the acquisition of the Ingram Barge property, located at 100 Scott St. on the Metropolis riverfront, and reestablishing the railroad line to that port. The council unanimously approved the agreement, 7-0; Alderman David Daugherty was absent.
"This letter is simply a support letter, it's not a finalized agreement in any way. It is subject to final approval by the port district and by the Metropolis corporate authorities," explained Alderman Bob Midnight, chairman of the council's Industrial Committee, which recommended the resolution on Sept. 18. "At this point, all we're really voting on is a big 'atta boy, go get 'em,' to encourage them to continue to work on this project. The final arrangements will be brought to us at that time."
On May 25, the Metropolis City Council unanimously approved, voting 7-0 with Daugherty absent, to enter into intergovernmental agreement with the MMPD. Through the agreement two properties owned by the city — the 2-acre site known as the old Button Factory and the old railroad yard with its spur located east of the railroad track — will be leased for 25 years by the MMPD.
It was a step needed in the MMPD's application for a Delta Regional Authority (DRA) grant — "money that will be awarded based on a lease (and not land ownership)," said MMPD consultant Jim Lindsey.
The grant application and the city agreement are the initial steps of a three-phase multi-modal transportation facility project by MMPD. The initial project is an open forum yard allowing the unloading of containers on the railroad property and storage on the Button Factory property. The second phase would be riverfront property to accommodate land freight to barge or barge to land freight transitions. The final phase would be a full service warehouse.
The MMPD was officially formed when Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law the bill creating it on Dec. 16, 2009. Its goal is economic development — primarily creating jobs and strengthening southern Illinois’ economy by increasing the region’s international trade capabilities. Its board — Larry Douglas, Scott Garrett, president Richard Kruger, Jason Nyberg, Randall Rushing, Kristy Stephenson and Sue Sandusky — has the authority to do things like enter into public/private partnerships, buy or lease property and taxation by referendum vote.
Since the acquisition of United Barge this spring, Ingram Barge has moved almost all of its operations to Paducah, keeping two acres and a concrete ramp for building repairs. The rest of the almost 20 acres of Metropolis riverfront property, which includes fleeting rights, 11 buildings and another concrete ramp, is for sale or lease.
MMPD saw an opportunity.
"We have met with Ingram four or five times, discussing the purchase of the property. We've got a letter of understanding that they will give us 60 days from Aug. 30 to not offer or lease it to anyone else during this period," Kruger said, noting the time frame helps MMPD line up financing.
The plan is to turn the property into an intermodal port, or making the second project of the MMPD's three-phase multi-modal transportation facility project a reality. The Metropolis River Port will be overseen by MMPD.
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