The trustees of the Duncan Economic Development Trust Authority voted 3-2 to approve a land purchase by the Duncan Area Economic Development Foundation.
DAEDF President Lyle Roggow presented a proposal to the trustees following Monday’s special meeting of the Duncan City Council to purchase 48 acres of land for $245,000. The land, located south of Cameron University Duncan, would eventually be used as the Duncan Center for Business Incubator.
The request was approved with votes by Chairman Gene Brown, Vice-Chairman Ricky Mayes and Trustee Tommy Edwards. Votes by Trustee Ritchie Dennington and Trustee Mike Nelson were considered in opposition to the request.
Although Vice-Chairman Mayes supported the request he expressed concerns that had been voiced to him concerning the location of the property.
“I would have liked to see them purchase the land somewhere besides behind the school for commercial property,” Mayes said. “I can understand their point of thinking but I think most industrial businesses would hesitate in locating directly behind Vo-Tech.”
He said his decision to support the request came from a desire to promote new business opportunities in Duncan and an appreciation for the work that DAEDF has done in bringing in new businesses.
“I think they do a good job in trying to promote Duncan,” Mayes said. “At this point, I think anything we can do to get businesses to locate in Duncan, we need to do. That is why I voted the way I did.”
Although Trustee Nelson recused himself from voting, which was tallied as opposition to the request, he said personally he thought it was a great idea. However, he said he received more calls and complaints about this issue alone than he had with many of the other issues the council has looked at in the past.
“The people voted for a half cents sales tax for DAEDF to be used for the whole area,” Nelson said. “As a trustee of that money with all the people talking to me and complaining about it, I did not feel comfortable voting yes.”
Nelson said he supports the idea because he feels like in the years to come, this could be an important part of Duncan’s development. It would aid in adding industries and professional business services. However, he said he was concerned that Duncan was not yet ready to support these business in areas such as housing but might have trouble expanding housing until more industries were brought in.
“What do you do first?” Nelson asked. “What comes first, the chicken or the egg?”
Nelson decided to oppose the request in order to represent the residents of Duncan according to the calls he received.
“It is sad but the only ones I heard from were the ones against it,” he said. “The ones for it are the ones on the DAEDF board. The majority of the people probably did not even look at it.”
Roggow considers this future step as a win-win for the community and future businesses as he said it will allow them great synergy with the university and Red River Technology Center.
“I think if we can show the citizens the future of this decision, they will support it,” Roggow said.
To move forward with the land acquisition, Roggow will be looking into whether the area needs to be rezoned before it can be developed. DAEDF will not immediately begin construction at the site but rather saw this as a great opportunity for business development in the future. DAEDF hopes to build a business park that offers small-scale professional services such as engineering services and laboratory services.
DAEDF is housed in the building that is primarily used by Wilco. DAEDF plans to eventually move their offices to the new location and may consider selling their current location.
“It is always for sale at the right price,” Roggow said.