I attended the meeting held by county officials on Thursday at Sale Creek High School. Mr. Coppinger gave a background on the purchase of the farm and also what possible future uses might be. In his comments he mentioned the word “transparency” multiple times. To my way of thinking this so called transparency in the use of taxpayer money would have been to put this before the county before they wrote the check, not after. Essentially, we have spent your money without your knowledge and we hope you don’t mind, but it's too late to do anything about it.
He proceeded to tell us the the purchase price was $16 million, plus the survey fees and assorted expenses. The property is roughly 2,100 acres in size, with somewhere between 600-700 usable acres for development. When we do a little math we find that we spent $7,620 per acre for this property and by Mr. Coppinger's estimation, only 600-700 acres of this land is actually functional. Property in this part of the county is currently going for roughly $2,500-$3,000 per acre, so it seems that no bargain was acquired at all and we spent nearly three times the going rate.
Now let's look at actual usable land for a moment and do that math using the 700 acre figure, that brings us to $22,857 per acre, which is certainly no bargain. Granted there are few properties available that have this much acreage, but this property has no current access to sewage and great expense to develop to a point to be attractive to commercial use.
It seems the transparency in this acquisition is only going to occur after they have spent our money, and it also seems financially responsible plans are not utilized.
The availability of rail service was also mentioned in the discussion. Upon looking at the current rail line you will see that the tracks are currently quite close to west of Highway 27, a track that has multiple daily use by trains. So to access this primary part of this property you would have to wait on train traffic multiple times a day. Hard to imagine that this would be attractive to a commercial entity.
Did we get great value for our money? Did we purchase something that can be utilized without great expense to the county? Comparisons to Enterprise South were made multiple times, but these are vastly different properties when looking at available infrastructure. I welcome thoughts from others.