published Friday, June 14th, 2013

Walker County Development Authority eyes former latex plant land, wells

KENSINGTON, Ga. — The Walker County Development Authority is interested in buying a 32-acre site southwest of Chickamauga that formerly was home to the Dow Reichhold Specialty Latex plant.

"We think it would be a good resource for us to have in our rear pocket," said the authority's Executive Director Larry Brooks.

Two things make the property attractive, Brooks said. One is the acreage itself.

We've had a couple of companies that have expressed interest in the property," Brooks said.

The property has rail spurs, a scale house used to weigh trucks, and, according to the tax assessor's office, a 22,000-square-foot galvanized metal warehouse.

"It wouldn't take much for someone to come in and refurbish those [railroad] tracks," Brooks said.

The other attractive feature, Brooks said, is the water rights to the wells on site.

"Walker County could be interested in having the well system itself," he said. "It's just nice to have."

Water from the wells could be used, he said, at the aquaponics, or fish-farming operation, getting underway inside the long-vacant, 1 million-square-foot Barwick-Archer carpet mill building nearby.

Brooks toured the aquaponics facility earlier in the week and saw the rectangular and cylindrical tanks in which they plan to raise rainbow trout, freshwater shrimp and other seafood.

"It's really interesting to see what they've done," Brooks said. "As they're expanding into the future, there's a very good likelihood that they may have to have more water."

Dow Reichhold officials in North Carolina have kept the well permits up to date, Brooks said, through the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.

"It's a good site," County Coordinator David Ashburn.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division signed off on environmental clean-up done there, Ashburn said.

Dow Reichhold Specialty Latex plant was Walker County's eighth-largest employer in 2005 with 111 employees, according to the Walker County Chamber of Commerce.

The plant had 57 employees when it closed in August, 2008. The company's products, which were used in everything from gloves to packaging, were transferred to a plant in Delaware.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6651.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers Catoosa and Walker counties for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California. Stories he's covered include crime in blighted parts of metro Detroit and Reno, Nev.; environmental activists tree-sitting in California's Sierra Nevada foothills; attempts by the Michigan Militia to take over a township¹s government in northern Michigan. A native of Michigan, ...

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