Chamber & Development Secures Rail Park Land Option, Studies Move Forward
The North Platte Area Chamber & Development Corporation has secured a land option agreement with a Hershey area landowner on a proposed 118-acre rail park development. Other preliminary steps are also moving forward in what is anticipated to be a multi-level developing process over the next couple of years.
Monday night, Chamber & Development officials met with the Hershey Village Board about future cooperative partnerships in the development of the park.
Union Pacific officials have been working with the Chamber & Development Corporation for the past several months on the idea of a rail park to be established in Lincoln County. “The railroad has been so supportive of this effort from its top management level, as well as locally at Bailey Yard,” said Gary Person, President & CEO of the Chamber & Development Corporation.
“This has the potential to be a ‘game changer’ in our recruitment of additional base industries and manufacturing to Lincoln County. We not only have received enthusiastic support from the Village board members at Hershey, but also from North Platte public officials and private sector businesses. Without the outstanding cooperation of landowner Dennis Steffes this would not have been possible. Our board of directors and economic development committee have been totally committed to move this development forward for the past several months,” Person said.
The Chamber was successful in its quest for a Site Readiness Assistance Planning grant from Nebraska Public Power District and the City of North Platte’s Quality Growth Fund for the initial environmental studies that must be undertaken. Additional funding has been allocated by the Chamber board from a fund provided by its economic incentive business partners.
In the past, because of the uniqueness of Bailey Yard and the congestion on the UP main line, the thought of additional rail access for industry in the North Platte area and Lincoln County was very difficult, and in many cases simply was not feasible. With the UP’s new efficiency model, the company has embraced the local rail park effort, Person said. “The support and guidance has been absolutely outstanding, and we are very appreciative.”
The Chamber has secured a contract for environmental study purposes with TC Engineering of North Platte to complete the required steps outlined in the NPPD SRAP. Those processes will begin now and take place until late 2020. Additional services will be sought for completing master planning and rail design to meet UP standards with national firms that have had extensive experience in rail park design.
We have also had initial conversations with Greenbrier Rail Services as this park will be near their existing location at Hershey and discussions on reaching agreements on mutually beneficial services.
“This isn’t going to happen overnight, but it will be for the long term good of the region. We will now be in a unique position where we can market the North Platte area as a potential home for industrial and manufacturing companies by offering four unique industrial sites that cater to trucking (Twin Rivers Business Park), warehousing (Iron Trail Park), rail (Hershey Rail Park) and air (North Platte Municipal Airport),” Person said.
“Much is also dependent on the successful passage of the Quality Growth Fund renewal in November by North Platte voters. The City of North Platte will likely play a key role in this development effort and this rail site is the absolute closest we can develop something in proximity to Bailey Yard. The spillover economic impact will be significant for North Platte also,” Person said.