BG eyes infrastructure improvements for Abbott site

By Peter Kuebeck, [email protected]

Bowling Green Council on Tuesday introduced an ordinance regarding infrastructure improvements for the upcoming Abbott Laboratories site.

The new infrastructure could include a traffic light at Bishop Road and Ohio 25 and a new pump station.

The ordinance would authorize Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter, Public Services Director Joe Fawcett and Utilities Director Brian O’Connell to execute agreements and enter into contracts related to financial matters, construction, infrastructure and right-of-way acquisition and improvements for the project.

In December, Abbott representatives announced they had selected the city for a new specialty and metabolic powder nutritional products manufacturing facility. The $500 million project is expected to generate 450 new jobs. The facility’s 100-acre site is located at the southeast corner of the Ohio 25 and Nims Road intersection, and directly east of the Route 25 and Bishop Road intersection.

According to a legislative package document prepared for council, the city will have a role in infrastructure improvements to provide utility service and transportation needs. While the city does not have final usage projections from Abbott, it is expected Abbott will be a large user of water, wastewater, and electric services based on the initial request. The city anticipates being able to serve the needs with available capacity.

The document stated that electricity for the facility will be provided from the substation located at Bishop Road, and a 36-inch water line on the west of Ohio 25 will provide water.

However, there is currently no sanitary sewer at the site and this will require some evaluation on the best solution for this service. The proposal to Abbott was for the city to construct a sanitary pump station on the site and build a force main down Bishop Road to the gravity sewer at the Brim Road and Bishop Road intersection. There are other options to evaluate before a final decision is made on sanitary service. There are currently no city utilities on Nims Road but this may be something to consider as specific project plans are developed.

Additionally, the document stated that “transportation improvements are also expected on SR 25 which may include a traffic signal at the SR 25 and Bishop Road intersection including a SR 25 southbound left turn lane into the property. There is already a SR 25 northbound left turn lane for Bishop Road. Nims Road will also likely require improvements since this road is fairly narrow and not designed to carry the potential traffic that may need to access the site.”

Further, “the State of Ohio and Wood County Port Authority have also been involved in the discussions regarding this project and it is anticipated there will be other funding sources that will help with a portion of the needed infrastructure improvements.”

As a result, the document stated, “to meet the project needs and schedule,” legislation is being requested to “advertise for qualifications and enter into a contract with a consulting firm to assist the city with project management, detailed design, and construction administration of the project,” and for authorizations to advertise for bids and to contract for construction of infrastructure improvements; to enter into agreements to acquire right-of-way; to enter into a Construction Agency Agreement with the Wood County Port Authority – noting that “the WCPA typically assists the city with grant funding from the State of Ohio on economic development projects”; and to accept “any financial assistance from the State of Ohio or other sources.”

“There are many unknowns at this time,” the document continues, “however, these approvals are warranted to ensure the project schedule does not slip. It will also show Abbott that the city is committee to keeping the project on schedule and working diligently to complete the city’s part.

“A project of this size and scope will have many components that will be further refined as the appropriate professionals are engaged and plans from Abbott, Utilities and infrastructure are more developed. The city is working closely with the Wood County Port Authority and state agencies on funding structures and components. Council will note, at this time, budget amendments are not being sought as these components are further refined and defined. As that occurs, additional action from council may be sought.”

The document requests that council add the emergency clause to the legislation, which would allow it to take effect immediately after it is passed, noting that the above-mentioned item “which will allow the city to hire professionals to work with project development and administration, is a significant first step for the city’s project work. Timely engagement in this process is needed.”