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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Snider meets with Chamber

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Susan Snider, marketing director, speaks to the Chamber of Commerce, about the Vermillion Rise Mega Park. The Mega Park spans 7,155 acres and has abundant resources on site. [Order this photo]
Susan Snider, marketing director, spoke to the Chamber of Commerce, Tuesday, about the future of the Vermillion Rise Mega Park, Newport, Ind.

Snider first gave some background on herself and then touched on what the Mega Park entails.

"I've been with the organization since the middle of November," Snider said. "So I've learned a ton in the last few months about what the Vermillion Rise property used to be and what we plan on it to be in the future.

"Vermillion Rise is truly one of the most unique mega sites in the world. It is one owner site, which is huge for people who are interested in developing something. That means they go to one place to get all of their permitting, to negotiate sales and leases, to do all their water (supplying)."

Snider said not only is the property large, but it also has plenty of resources on site.

"We have over 7,000 acres available to us on the site," Snider said. "We have an abundant water supply, currently our capacity is 100 million gallons of water a day. We have ample natural gas and electric power.

"We will eventually have CSX railroads available on the site, we're about 20 minutes from Interstate-70 and Interstate-74, and our certification as a mega site is pending."

Snider said many communities in the country have industrial parks that may have 50 or 100-acre parcels available, but Vermillion Rise is unique because it has 1,000 acre parcels for sale.

According to Snider, the property is located north off of State Road 63, in Newport, Ind., in Vermillion County, just south of the Duke Energy Cayuga Power Plant.

Snider also gave those in attendance an overview of the history of the property.

"In 1941, Wabash River Ordnance Works was created on the property; it was developed by the Army," Snider said. "(The Army) came in and basically took 22,000 acres of land to create the Newport piece of property."

Snider said during the history of the property, there have been a lot of different things created there.

"In 1942, (there was a) Royal Demolition Explosive plant (RDX) on the site, the operation began after the attack on Pearl Harbor," Snider said.

Snider noted that RDX is a type of plastic explosive.

"In 1943, (there was) a heavy water plant reservoir there, the production facilities were constructed for the heavy water manufacturing from 1943-1944, and all the heavy water for the Manhattan Project was made at Newport. The site was chosen because of the abundant water supply."

She said from 1970-1975, there was also a TNT plant on the property, but what the site might be most known for is its VX (nerve gas) production.

"In 1958, the VX production plant was started, (and) all the VX for the United States ... was made at Newport," Snider said. "Approximately 2,000 workers were employed at the depot during the production of VX.

"In 1968, President (Richard) Nixon ceased chemical weapons production, and then in 1969 a moratorium on chemical weapons shipment was made," Snider said. "So that meant the last two batches of VX were stranded at Newport. The VX was safely stored at Newport until its elimination."

She said there were over 1,000 one-ton containers, which amounted to approximately 300,000 gallons of VX stored at the site, and in 1993 the Chemical Weapons Convention called for the destruction of the weapon.

According to Snider, the destruction of the remaining VX was performed by Parson Infrastructure and Technology, from May 5, 2005 until its completion on Aug. 8, 2008.

"After the destruction took place there was no need for the Army to have that site anymore," Snider said, "so the Newport chemical depot got put on the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) list of 2005.

Snider went on to explain the BRAC process further.

"The BRAC process was developed as an attempt to achieve the government's goal of closing and realigning military instillations, despite the political challenge, which often arises when facilities face reduction and elimination," Snider said. "The BRAC legislation governs the process of how federal defense facilities can be disposed, and the process is designed to minimize the impact on the local community."

Some communities fight against being put on the BRAC list, but Vermillion County, Clinton and Newport embraced it, because when an area gets put on the BRAC list it gets access to a lot of resources from the federal government, Snider said.

The next step was to create the Newport Chemical Reuse Authority, which took ownership of the property in October 2011.

She then went into detail about what the Vermillion Rise Mega Park is and will become.

"The Mega Park's allocated land use will achieve a near 50/50 split between natural and built areas," Snider said. "So there will be abundant parkland and natural open spaces.

"We are working with the DNR to have some conservation areas; there's a spot in the northwest corner of the property, about 1,700 acres that we will be turning over to the DNR, and it will look like Indiana did 200 years ago."

She said the area will be home to hardwood forests, prairie grass and wetlands, which will be open to the public.

"We also have agriculture and forestry as part of the reuse plan and the land split. We have a (more than) 1,000 acres that will be (for) agriculture, and we already have that farmed out," Snider said. "We have a management agreement with Farmers National. They are a farm management firm out of Lafayette, Ind., and they are helping us manage those farm leases, and that makes up a huge part of our income."

Snider said another part of the development is business and technology, which will help replace lost jobs.

"With the closing of the Newport Chemical Depot, 160 jobs were eliminated from the area," Snider said. "Assuming the construction of several major energy, commercial and institutional uses at the depot it could potentially facilitate $4 million in local labor income and roughly 9,000 construction jobs over the next 20 years.

"It's projected that 2,500 jobs could be created in Vermillion Rise by 2020 resulting in $2 million in labor income locally."

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Good luck with this, it sounds exciting. We could use the jobs in our area.

-- Posted by Proud of My Country on Wed, Mar 28, 2012, at 11:55 AM

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