Ross Business Park next area of city development

By Ronald MacArthur

With land nearly sold out in the Seaford Industrial Park, city officials are forced to look elsewhere for industrial development land. And they don’t have to look far. The city has 171 acres for development directly across the street from the current park in the Ross Business Park (the area surrounding the Gov. Ross Mansion). The prime land has been set aside by the city for future development. although some development has already occurred in the area. The city council set aside 40 acres for the Seaford Sports Complex which contains a men’s softball field, the Field of Dreams football field, and the Jay’s Nest Community Playground. Other projects are planned for the complex, including a new Seaford District Library. In addition, the Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club purchased some land to build a facility. The first access to the new park, Market Street Ext. has been built and all of the lots adjoining the street have been sold. Children and Families First has an adolescents’ facility near the entrance of the park, Nurses ‘n Kids has purchased a lot, and Tull, Johnson & Lank are in the process of relocating to a lot in the park. Infrastructure is the key to more development in the Ross Business Park. City manager Dolores Slatcher would not begin to estimate the total cost of putting all of the infrastructure in the park including water, sewer, and electric lines as well as roads. “But $5 million would probably make a big impact on it - which is way beyond our operating budget,” she said.
According to Slatcher, some preliminary work over the past three years has been done in preparation for development in the park. A three-acre storm water retention pond has been constructed in the northeast corner of the park and design work is under way for an $800,000 lift station to service the northern section of the park ($300,000 from the state bond bill and $500,000 from the real estate transfer tax). Water lines are already in place to service the park. The city has also had a consultant prepare a preliminary site plan for the park. “The council is committed to this park to create jobs,” Slatcher said. One of the driving forces behind the interest in opening the park is the current status of the INVISTA (former DuPont) Plant. “We are watching that situation closely. The future is unknown and we will be working closely in concert with what happens there,” Slatcher added. “The mission of the city council is to have job opportunities for our youth, but also for displaced workers so they don’t have to leave the area. In that regard, the focus has changed some,” she said. Where will the money come from to build the remaining infrastructure needed in the park? Slatcher said that it will have to be done in phases with a combination of city and state funds. “The state invested money up front for us to purchase the land so they have an interest in this,” she said. “We will continue with that approach and keep asking for money in the bond bill each year.” She added that having an “active client” such as Johnson Wax in the first park would speed up the infrastructure process. “State officials want to see a quick return.”

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