Dig­ging for com­merce

Work starts at site of Bay Roberts busi­ness park site

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

The move­ment of trees and soil along L.T. Stick Drive last week sig­ni­fied the long-awaited start to de­vel­op­ment of the Bay Roberts busi­ness park.

Pieces of heavy equip­ment are work­ing at the site clear­ing the land, do­ing some grub­bing and mak­ing a road­way through the 60-acres of town land sit­u­ated off L.T. Stick Drive, near Vet­er­ans Me­mo­rial High­way.

“We’re very ex­cited as a coun­cil and we’re very op­ti­mistic (about the project),” Mayor Philip Wood told The Com­pass.

The work is be­ing com­pleted by the St. John’s-based Pennecon Lim­ited, who have been at the site since an of­fi­cial agree­ment was signed last month.

“(Pennecon) wanted to get a jump on the con­struc­tion sea­son next spring,” said Wood. “They want to get go­ing as soon as pos­si­ble, and that’s what they’ve done.”

As re­ported in July 2014, Pennecon has a con­cep­tual de­sign for the park drawn up. The plan fea­tures 15 build­ing lots of var­i­ous sizes with en­trance from L.T. Stick Drive, which would run par­al­lel to the park.

Deemed a “great lo­ca­tion” by Wood, the lo­ca­tion of the park of­fers plenty of ac­cess to the Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion re­gion. Con­sumers from all cor­ners of the re­gion could eas­ily avail of any ser­vices of­fered by the park, which would be a short drive along the Vet­er­ans Me­mo­rial High­way.

“Get­ting the work done would put them in a bet­ter mar­ket­ing po­si­tion,” said the mayor.

A long time com­ing

It’s been a long haul for Bay Roberts to get to this point. The idea of a busi­ness park goes back more than a decade and through a trio of may­ors — Wood, Glenn Lit­tle­john and Wil­bur Sparkes.

In 2012, the town signed a let­ter of in­tent with Loblaw Prop­er­ties Ltd., which operates the Do­min­ion store on Con­cep­tion Bay High­way. The idea at the time was that the land would serve as a base for a new gro­cery store, which could at­tract other ten­ants.

How­ever, that deal fell through in July 2013.

“This is an agree­ment, not a ten­ta­tive one,” said Wood. “There’s been a lot of hard work to get to this point. It has to feel good for pre­vi­ous coun­cil­lors and coun­cils to see this.”

Some re­lief

While a fully op­er­a­tional busi­ness park would sig­nal an eco­nomic boon for Bay Roberts, Wood saw an­other pos­i­tive be­hind the move. He sees it as a sta­ble com­mer­cial tax base and some­thing that could help re­lieve the strain of ris­ing mu­nic­i­pal as­sess­ments.

“It’ll help with tax dol­lars of res­i­dents as well,” said Wood. “In light of as­sess­ments that ap­pear to be ris­ing ev­ery three years, it pro­vides us with the re­lief that we need.”

There has to be a sense of re­lief float­ing around the town’s of­fices th­ese days. Af­ter the deal with Loblaws went away, the town went back to the draw­ing board.

Months passed be­fore the cur­rent group came along.

“To see progress mov­ing ahead, there is a sense of re­lief,” said Wood. “We are pleased to see it mov­ing for­ward.”

PHOTO BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

Pre­lim­i­nary work started last week at the planned site of the Bay Roberts busi­ness park.

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