Feb 262013


By Wesley Brown

Monday, February 25, 2013

A $2.5 million Medical Research Park and $10 million in street resurfacing projects will be on the table tonight when the City Council convenes for a specially called meeting to continue planning Greenville’s economic future.

Also on the agenda for the meeting at 6 p.m. at City Hall is a motion to host two city-funded early-voting sites for the 2013 municipal election at the Pitt Area Transit System Conference Room at 1717 W. Fifth St. and on the campus of East Carolina University.

The medical research park and resurfacing investments are seen as major infrastructure improvements needed to propel the city into becoming the economic and medical hub of eastern North Carolina.

While road repaving may be seen by some as less glamorous, the immediate needs on Greenville streets are well-documented. Approximately 100 miles of city roads are in poor condition, a deterioration staff estimates that at $100,000 per mile, could cost $10 million to resurface.

New roads could help a medical research park in Greenville — the only economic development initiative that gained majority support from the council during its planning session in late January, with four members selecting it as one of the city’s most important needs.

The biotech facility is being promoted as a way for the council to achieve its strategic economic goal of “diversifying the city’s tax base and increasing general revenue” by attracting support businesses to the medical district and the campus of East Carolina University.

Community Development Director Merrill Flood said in a memo to the council last week that such an endeavor might offer expansion space and development-ready sites for private businesses wishing to locate in a collaborative environment with a focus on the life sciences.

A medical research park is not a new idea for Greenville.

The city’s original Medical District Development Plan was adopted and implemented in October 1974 and created the supportive environment necessary to facilitate the hospital and medical complex.

The plan has been updated several times and has served the city well, expanding the city’s boundaries more than 11,500 acres to promote a vibrant, efficient and sustainable medical core, consisting of a hospital, medical school, residential neighborhoods and a commercial district to serve the local population, daily visitors and area employees.

For the projects, Greenville’s Financial Services Director Bernita Demery has said the city could afford $420 million in debt if it explored a mixture of potential revenue sources, such as limited obligation and special revenue bonds, installment purchase agreements and a one-time contribution of $4.2 million from the general fund.

Contact Wesley Brown at 252-329-9579 or wbrown@reflector.com. Follow him on Twitter @CityWatchdog.

via The Daily Reflector.


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