02/26/07 — Grant will improve water system

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Grant will improve water system

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on February 26, 2007 1:45 PM

Wayne County's industrial park ParkEast will receive a $500,000 grant to improve its water system, Sen. John Kerr, D-Wayne, announced last week.

Wayne County Development Alliance President Joanna Thompson confirmed the announcement Thursday saying the grant from the Rural Center is the first of other possible monetary sources to build an elevated water tank at the industrial park.

An elevated water tank will provide the necessary pressure and flow of water to serve all of ParkEast's industrial sprinkler systems and for fire protection for those buildings, Ms. Thompson said.

Although the elevated water tank is a part of ParkEast's long-range plan, the Alliance couldn't begin applying for grants until the industrial park had enough industries to support the upgrade, Ms. Thompson said.

After AAR Cargo Systems located into ParkEast's 106,000-square-foot shell building and built on another 80,000 square feet, Ms. Thompson said the project became feasible.

The $500,000 grant will cover almost half of the $1.2 million project. Ms. Thompson said the Alliance would continue to look for other grants and money before construction begins.

If those funds are allocated to the county, Ms. Thompson said she hopes the elevated water tower will be "up and ready by the end of the year."

In a press release Friday, Kerr praised Gov. Mike Easley's proposed budget, saying its recommendation to provide $250 million in bond funds for water and sewer needs was sorely needed.

"I am pleased that the governor's budget invests in water and sewer systems, especially in our rural areas," Kerr said. "But his budget is just the starting point -- we have so much more to do to make sure all our communities have the tools they need to strengthen their economy, protect water quality, and improve services for residents.

He noted that water and sewer needs in North Carolina are estimated to cost $15 billion by 2030.

Kerr has long been a strong supporter of water and sewer improvements for eastern North Carolina, saying they are key components of economic development.