Local contractors help spur rail project to finish

Friday, August 24, 2012

Yes, they've been working on the railroad -- certainly longer than all the livelong day -- and with a greater purpose than just to pass the time away this summer.

And now we just might hear that whistle blowing as the new railroad spur serving Phoenix Closures is reportedly ready to roll.

That's what the Greencastle Redevelopment Commission was told Wednesday evening by Development Center Director Bill Dory, who noted that only a punch-list inspection remained on the project at the former Oxford Automotive (and Greencastle Manufacturing) plant on South Jackson Street.

Ameritrack Rail, Frankfort, was awarded the $345,907 contract to relocate that rail spur by removing the existing siding and roadbed and constructing a new spur with 1,000 feet of rail siding.

Two local companies have helped make the new rail spur a reality, Dory noted.

Earthwork, grading and underground piping work were done by Shannon McCullough Excavating of Bainbridge.

Super Crete, owned by Vern Ridgway, Cloverdale, provided the concrete work for the rail spur site.

When the facility was last operated six years ago by Oxford, the rail spur actually went inside the building. The new spur runs across the front of the Phoenix plant so plastic pellets can be off-loaded from train cars into the silos in front of the facility and from the silos into the building.

Phoenix Closures, which specializes in injection-molded caps and lids for the food and beverage, pharmaceutical and household chemical industries, has begun production, Dory also reported.

The Naperville, Ill.-based company is utilizing the 225,000 square-foot facility as a food-grade packaging manufacturing plant.

With some 30-40 employees on staff so far, Phoenix Closures "will continue to ramp up," Dory said, reminding the Redevelopment Commission that Phoenix had "told us up front there would be a ramping-up period."

Phoenix is expected to provide 90 new jobs in the next few years.

An open house at the Phoenix facility is expected to be announced in the near future.

In other business, the Redevelopment Commission:

-- Received a draft financial report showing the commission has approximately $3,140,000 in the bank (from tax increment financing revenues captured from the east side and downtown TIF districts) with a second 2012 draw of $584,000 in TIF revenues due by the end of the year. Funds committed to outstanding local projects are estimated at $1.5-$1.8 million.

-- Learned Phase II of the downtown facade project will go out for requests for proposal for grant administrators and architects. By this time next year, the second phase is expected to be in progress.

-- Heard that a recent meeting with downtown building owners interested in loft housing on their second floors was well attended and met with much interest, City Attorney Laurie Hardwick reported.

-- Learned that three more owner-occupied properties will go out for renovation bids and be included in the ongoing Stellar Grant project.

-- Heard that city officials will meet with Ratio Architects for reconfigured design work on the downtown parking garage planned for the Walnut-Indiana-Jackson street area. The initial design was reportedly too modern and didn't seem to blend with the neighborhood.

-- Accepted a $2,211 bid from Maurice McKee of Greencastle to clean up and clear scrubby trees and brush from an area along Ballard Lane, the road back to the Putnam County Airport.

Erika Gilmore chairs the Redevelopment Commission with Drew Brattain, Gwen Morris, Gary Lemon and Jim Ruark as voting members.

The commission's next regular session is set for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26 at City Hall.

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