Manager of former K-25 site to get remaining land

4/25/2017

The Tennessee General Assembly has approved legislation establishing the management of an Oak Ridge industrial park, according to Billy Stair, a lobbyist who supported the legislation.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Ken Yager, R Kingston, and Rep. Kent Calfee, R-Kingston, would establish the Community Reuse Organization of East Tennessee as the management entity of the 1,300-acre East Tennessee Technology Park in eastern Roane County. It passed the state House on April 13 and the state Senate on April 20. Now it’s on its way to Gov. Bill Haslam’s desk.

CROET currently manages about 300 acres at ETTP. With passage of the legislation, the Department of Energy can transfer the remaining portions of the industrial park to CROET.

The legislation states that after the land is transferred, CROET will enter into a lease agreement with the Oak Ridge Industrial Development Board to hold the property until sold for industrial and commercial development.

Stair and other proponents of the bill hope the technology park will diversify Oak Ridge’s economy by creating room for large manufacturing industries, like the production of carbon fiber.

“This legislation represents the closing of the circle that began in 1942 with the taking of the land for the Manhattan Project,” Stair said, referencing the Department of Energy’s mass eviction of farmers to create the secret Oak Ridge complex.

“The land was used to win a war, cleaned up, and now returned for the benefit of the community,” Stair said.

The industrial park housed the former K-25 Gaseous Diffusion Plant built during World War II as part of the Manhattan Project. The last of the gaseous diffusion plant buildings came down last August. The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management expects land contamination to be completely cleaned up by 2019.

The park already contains infrastructure assets like power, rail, barge and interstate access that will be critical to recruiting large industries. Some private businesses exist on the land now. It is also the site of the proposed Oak Ridge Airport.

“I want to extend my appreciation to all the parties who made this legislation possible,” said CROET President Lawrence Young. “In addition to Senator Yager and Rep. Calfee, we worked hand in hand with the Department of Energy, Roane County, and the City of Oak Ridge to lay the groundwork for the park’s long-term future.”

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel, by Brittany Crocker

The East Tennessee Economic Development Agency markets and recruits business for the 15 counties in the greater Knoxville-Oak Ridge region of East Tennessee. Visit www.eteda.org

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