A business park expansion along East River Road that’s still all but empty has some county councillors wondering where its tax dollars are being spent.
Coun. Peter Boyles asked if a simple breakdown of financials in regard to the East River Business Park could be put on the new county website for everyone to view.
He said some of the information should include the purchase price for the land, borrowing and interest charges, cost of improvements and the cost of trying to sell the lots.
“These questions should be answered,” he said.
The park is managed by The New Scotland Business Development Inc., a corporation created by the Town of New Glasgow and Municipality of Pictou County in 2014. That year the municipalities purchased 17 acres of land adjacent to the existing business park to develop and create lots ready for businesses to move to. The cost of the land was about $2.7 million.
The New Scotland Business Development Inc. board is made up of members from both councils and meets monthly. In addition, the two municipalities’ business development officer, Frank MacFarlane, has been working to find interested buyers.
County Coun. Andy Thompson said council was provided a detail list of financial information on the park and he assured Boyles that MacFarlane is working diligently on getting parcels of land sold, in and outside of the park.
“He is leaving no stone unturned,” he said. “Our focus is getting new jobs and we are going to get there.”
Thompson said the numbers are also listed in the county’s yearly financial statements, but Boyles stressed again that it should be broken down for people looking for all the information in one location on the website.
Coun. Darla MacKeil said she believes it would be helpful if a regular report was given to council on the work being done at the park. Her comment was echoed by Coun. David Parker, who said it would helpful to have MacFarlane address council at least twice a year.
Coun. Larry Turner, who sits on the park’s board of directors, said there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes.
“Mr. MacFarlane is working diligently to put business in that park,” he said. “It is money well spent and an investment. It sends a signal when we have someone here, we can say we are investment ready. You would be surprised by how much work we put into the park and how much fish is on the line.”
Thompson said county council will receive a report from MacFarlane next month. New Glasgow council received one Monday during its council and committee meetings.
In the New Glasgow report on the park, MacFarlane said he is continuing correspondence with a team of investors interested in hotel development as well as another potential business.
He said there has also been ongoing discussion with a real estate agent about a client interested in purchasing land in the park for an automotive centre and a surveyor has been engaged to subdivide a portion of land to be purchased by an existing property owner within the park.
MacFarlane also reported that there is continue dialogue with a Burnside company about expanding into the park as well as ongoing discussion with another real estate agent about a client interested in land options to build a 5,000- to 7,000-square-foot building for a wholesale distribution business.
Lastly, his report states that there is discussion with a local company interested in purchasing land for the purpose of constructing a 10,000-square-foot production facility and he is currently in the process of drafting a letter of intent on this deal.