A 176-acre tract in Batesburg-Leesville may be transformed from a field of dreams into the source of dozens of new jobs.
After a 10-year delay, Lexington County and town leaders are ready to add roads and sewers at the tract on the east edge of the community.
It’s a facelift with a price tag of $2.7 million, without knowing whether any pay-off is coming.
That is causing some County Council members to question whether it is worthwhile.
The improvements are vital for the goal of attracting small manufacturers and warehouses to the town of 5,400 residents, supporters say.
Companies looking to expand want parcels they can use quickly instead of waiting months for roads and utilities to be brought in, officials say.
“Getting it shovel-ready is the right investment,” Mayor James Wiszowaty said.
Companies are unlikely to settle there “unless we build the (industrial) park first,” County Councilman Johnny Jeffcoat said.
The site is off the beaten path, 10 miles north of I-20 in the rural western edge of the county.
Only a manufacturer of industrial basins has located there in the 14 years sites have been available.
It’s the oldest of three sites county officials are developing for new industry, with tax gains divided among schools.
A plan awaiting County Council approval includes $2 million for roads and other features, with Town Hall ready to chip in $660,000 for sewers.
Some county leaders hesitate to include those features in a package of projects whose debt would add $8 to the property tax bill of a $100,000 home.
Councilman Jim Kinard is skeptical that the improvements make the site more attractive.
“I want to get the biggest bang for the buck and this may not be it,” he said.
Wiszowaty — once reluctant about investing in the site — meets with county leaders Tuesday in an effort to allay those concerns.
“This (site) has been a white elephant for years,” he said.”We’ve been putting it off for way too long. It’s time to step up to the plate.”
Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.