In the Whirlpool development, board members approved hiring a local appraiser to assess the current market value of property near Benton Pike and Michigan Avenue. This land will give better access for rail service to the new Whirlpool plant.
“It’s the last remaining (Whirlpool) piece of land for the project,” said Doug Berry, vice president of economic development for the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce. The current owners are open to discussion about a partial or total sale of their property.
Title issues also are being resolved. The board hopes to close on property by the end of November.
“Other projects are on track as well,” Berry said.
The various parts of the plan, from the site development plan to the wetland and stream mitigation plan, are coming together. One current highlighted project is the consolidation of two areas that become filled with water across some of the proposed site into a “single-stream channel” that will establish a new ecologically functional stream. Because the waterways are of such poor quality, the state of Tennessee recommended the building of one good stream that will improve the current habitat. Four acres of wetland will be relocated to other parts of the site and expanded to about 10 acres. The Chamber is also talking with additional property owners downstream about other stream restoration activities such as repairs to 900 feet of stream bank.
However, there are some brief delays with the storm water pollution prevention plans as site plans are being adjusted to eliminate conflicts with the stream and wetlands mitigation plan.
“We’ll clean all this up,” Berry said. In fact, a special mitigation plan public hearing is being held at the Chamber at 6 p.m. on Sept. 28. “It’s a sound plan. It’s bringing a secondary benefit to the community.”
TVA has been called in to identify other wetlands mitigation sites, as well as to work with the owners of the land. In addition, Cleveland Utilities has already started working on new water lines as of two weeks ago.
“It takes a team to make these things happen,” Berry said.
The first phase of the Whirlpool project will be establishing the manufacturing production area. The last, which probably won’t be tackled until sometime in 2013, will be the engineering sections.
“It’s the most expensive,” Berry said. This part of the plant will remain operating exactly where it is now. “There are also such rapid advancements of equipment, (Whirlpool) wants to get the most modern equipment available.”
The Wacker Chemie project is also progressing.
“Just because you don’t see anything on the ground doesn’t mean nothing is happening,” said Gary Farlow, Chamber president and CEO.
Simultaneously, work is proceeding on permitting, establishing utilities, meeting with TDOT and OLIN on site access, gas and electric line connections, right-of-way details and decisions, terrain planning and engineering design elements. Wacker Chemie is also working on trying to level the entire 550 acres into a flat plane.
Chamber representatives will be making a trip soon to the WACKER headquarters in Munich to meet with the company’s relocation team. While there, they will also visit a trade fair, as well as meet with other German companies who may want to relocate to the area.
“We’ve already sent 24 boxes of relocation materials,” Farlow said. “(WACKER) is going over this (information) already.”
The goal is to help establish a sound and workable information packet for WACKER employees to establish themselves here in Cleveland. To help the newly relocated families with the transition, the Chamber will start to meet with school directors this week to help establish programs specifically geared toward WACKER families. This influx will have a big impact on the school system. There is some talk of even adding a Saturday school program.
“Families may start moving here as early as January 2011,” Farlow said. “However, there is still no date for the groundbreaking. But soon.”