Intermodal park in Windsor could be privatized

Published 8:35 am Wednesday, January 6, 2010

ISLE OF WIGHT—After a decade of developing the Shirley T. Holland Intermodal Park as a publicly funded project, Isle of Wight County could soon be looking to private investors to help finance future phases of the project.

The intermodal park, located on Route 460 near Windsor, is seen as a major driving force in the economic development of Isle of Wight County — especially considering the closure of several businesses, most notably International Paper Co.’s Franklin mill, and the loss of hundreds of jobs and millions of associated tax dollars.

The Board of Supervisors has taken a hard look at spending in recent months, bracing for state funding cuts as well as up to $6.2 million in reduced local revenue by the 2012 fiscal year.

Thursday night the Board of Supervisors will consider moving forward with the development of a comprehensive request for proposals to solicit a private sector partner for the intermodal park by the end of 2010.

According to county documents, the development “is at a tipping point at which soliciting a substantial private sector development partner would be advantageous in key areas.” Partnering with a private sector developer “will ensure that the (Shirley T. Holland) Intermodal Park remains a competitive choice within the region and around the nation.”

County staff estimates that privatization could bring in “substantial revenue” and save the county millions of dollars over the next two decades.

Isle of Wight County spokesman Don Robertson said Tuesday that he didn’t have a lot of details about the proposal, but it was based upon discussions about how to move forward with the development of the intermodal park, considering the county’s financial situation.

“I think that this is something that came about to address the issue of continuing to develop the intermodal park with limited local funds,” he said.

The intermodal park is currently home to two warehouse/distribution centers, Cost Plus World Market and Safco Products Co.