Electric co-op looked at locating to IW site

Published 7:17 pm Tuesday, February 19, 2019

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Community Electric Cooperative has explored the property alongside the proposed youth correctional center site, but it is only one of other potential future sites to which the utility might relocate, according to spokesperson Jessica Parr. 

What has only been referred to as “Project Bolt” by Isle of Wight County officials was seemingly revealed during the Feb. 12 Windsor Town Council meeting, but Parr said that saying it is the new business for that property is “not factual.” 

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“We may ultimately find that remaining in our current location is best at this time,” she said. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Isle of Wight County has been working with the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice to build a 60-bed correctional facility on 20 acres of property south of the Town of Windsor. During public meetings, county officials have also stated that another business has looked at locating next to the facility, referring to it only as “Project Bolt.”

Located along Route 258, the property is part of Phase III of Isle of Wight’s intermodal park — large swaths of county-owned property originally purchased to bring commercial business to the county. 

Conversation concerning Community Electric swirled at the Windsor Town Council meeting as part of a rising tide of public opposition for the project.

Isle of Wight Assistant County Administrator Don Robertson said it is not true that the Isle of Wight Economic Development Authority has transferred the property to Community Electric.

The EDA did vote to transfer the 20 acres to the county for the youth correctional center rather than to the state so it could go through the public hearing process. A public hearing on transferring the land to the state for that purpose is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 21, 6 p.m., at the courthouse complex. 

The 20 acres is part of a larger 139-acre parcel, some of which is wetlands. 

Parr said Community Electric has had a few confidential conversations with the EDA about relocating. 

Robertson said those would not be characterized as negotiating. 

The EDA is made up of seven members appointed by the Board of Supervisors. After the vote to transfer the land back to the county, two members, Richard J. Holland Jr. and Len Alphin, resigned. Both were bitterly opposed to the youth correctional center coming to Isle of Wight County. 

The county purchased the land several years ago and had transferred it to the EDA as a way to easily facilitate new business coming to the county, such as cutting out public hearings, if needed.  

Also stated during the Windsor Town Council meeting was that Isle of Wight wants to use Community Electric’s current location for construction of a county maintenance facility. 

Robertson said he doesn’t know if that’s true or not. He said there’s been some preliminary discussion in general but nothing agreed to. 

Even so, it is far too early to suggest that as a possibility, he said. 

Robertson doesn’t disagree that Community Electric’s current location, the corner of Routes 258 and 460, is prime real estate for commercial purposes and that using it for a county maintenance facility isn’t its best and highest use. 

Community Electric currently owns the property and there have been no conversations about the county purchasing it, said Robertson.

Robertson said he doesn’t know who “Project Bolt” is because the economic development staff keeps prospective businesses a secret.

Community Electric is a tax paying entity, providing $142,959 in real estate and personal property tax revenues to the county a year, according to Isle of Wight County Commissioner of Revenue Gerald Gwaltney.

Community Electric pays $12,500 for the public service corporation tax to the Town of Windsor, said Town Manager Michael Stallings. 

The proposed juvenile correctional center is an attempt by the state to make its youth facilities smaller and closer to the homes of its inmates. Employing a new model of detention, the smaller facility will focus on academic and vocational education, athletics, as well as treatment and counseling.

A similar facility is being eyed in central Virginia.  {/mprestriction}