The recession stalled one of Batesville leaders’ big ideas, but now the urge to construct a shell building to attract a new industry here is more definite. A developer who will explore whether the project is feasible was approved at a Batesville Economic Development Commission special meeting Nov. 9.
Members actually met twice about the issue. Due to an unintentional violation of Indiana’s Open Door Law – a fax was sent from the mayor’s office to The Herald-Tribune, but never received – a vote at the Nov. 1 BEDC meeting was invalid.
Before members talked about which firm should be chosen, at the first meeting they discussed where the building would go. There were two choices, land near Batesville Commerce Center originally intended for an Ivy Tech Community College structure; and a lot, not yet determined, at the vacant 73-acre industrial park on the east side of Merkel Road and south of I-74.
Caran Siefert, 114 Chateau Blvd., attended the meeting because his home is near the first choice. “We’re a little bit concerned. We don’t want a heavy manufacturing plant right in our backyard.” BEDC member Gene Lambert maintained, “A heavy manufacturing facility has no purpose going into that spot. It would be one of our last choices. We see that particular area for more of a life science (building) … a tech park.” Lambert added he doesn’t want a factory “wedged between St. Andrews (Health Campus) and a retirement community. It’s not community planning.”
BEDC President Andy Saner reported on two October days, members met with representatives of four developer/construction firms “to start homing in on the best group to partner with in helping to assist us in defining what this project should look like.” The firm had to meet certain criteria: “previous experience; capability for construction manufacturing; planning infrastructure experience; qualified design partners”; financing; marketing; and, “one of the most important pieces, their willingness … to work with local contractors.”