NETWORKS moving forward with two new business parks

Rick Wagner • Apr 19, 2007 at 9:24 AM

BLOUNTVILLE - Sullivan County economic development officials are moving forward with plans for Partnership Parks II and III as efforts at Partnership Park I come to fruition.

Richard Venable, chief executive officer of the NETWORKS – Sullivan Partnership, on Thursday updated the NETWORKS board on sales and pending sales of land at Partnership Park I.

A bond issue of $6.5 million is to be added to existing debt of $2.5 million, for a total of $9 million.

It will provide start-up money for Partnership Park II just outside Bristol, Tenn., as well as additional funds for finishing up Partnership Park I not covered by Tennessee grants and some start-up money for an as-yet-unidentified site for a proposed Partnership Park III in the Kingsport end of the county.

NETWORKS is a joint economic development effort of Sullivan County, Kingsport, Bristol, Tenn., and Bluff City, a group that shares the expenses and revenues of such efforts 51 percent, 31 percent, 17 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

Of the 108 acres in the NETWORKS-owned Partnership Park I near Tri-Cities Regional Airport, five have been sold, five are under option, the sale of 18 acres is pending, and the sale of anther 9.36 acres is pending. All told, those would put $1.08 million in NETWORKS coffers.

"If they all come through, they would do debt service for NETWORKS through 2010," said Venable.

Sullivan County's share of the 223-acre Partnership Park II, off State Route 394 and next to a city-owned park that has a Media General printing facility, would be the lion's share of the total park purchase price. Sullivan County's share of the $3.29 million is 51 percent, or $1.68 million. Kingsport would pay 31 percent or $1.02 million, followed by Bristol at 17 percent or $560,048 and Bluff City with $32,944.

The Sullivan County Commission and Bristol City Council have approved the land purchase and amending the interlocal government agreement of NETWORKS for Partnership Park II. Venable said the purchase option on some parcels to make up that park can be extended 60 days beyond a May deadline.

Approval is pending by the Kingsport and Bluff City boards of mayor and aldermen.

After the meeting, Venable explained that annexation or putting the parks inside a city limits would be different for these three parks.

If inside a city, the 50 percent of any local-option sales or use tax would be split among the county, Kingsport and Bristol schools, but the rest would be shared among the four local governments.

In addition, Venable said county and city property taxes generated by the parks would be placed in a single NETWORKS coffer, with any surplus after expenses going back to the county 51 percent, Kingsport 31 percent, Bristol 17 percent and Bluff City 1 percent.

In other action during the meeting, the board voted to adopt the Executive Committee's recommendation to have regular board meetings every other month - the minimum called for in the group's bylaws - but continue having Executive Committee meetings once a month.

Venable said called meetings could be held as needed, and the NETWORKS staff would improve written communications with the board between meetings, possibly utilizing the NETWORKS Web site now under redesign.

Venable also said the monthly NETWORKS newsletter is under evaluation.

For more information, visit www.networkstn.com.

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