The idea, still in it infancy, has been pushed by Bruce Baumhower, president of United Auto Workers Local 12, which represents Toledo Jeep workers and several area auto parts makers.
The proposal, if developed, could turn the triangular area that is now largely vacant and is bounded by railroad tracks into a prime business locale for auto suppliers and could provide direct access to the Jeep operations on Stickney Avenue to the south.
The park idea is not related to the planned $2.1 billion expansion of the Toledo Jeep North Assembly factory just to the south, but is envisioned as a possible home to future Jeep suppliers and other businesses.
City Councilman Pete Gerken, who has been involved for weeks in trying to get the project moving forward, said the site looks promising, if some physical problems, such as building a bridge over the rail lines there, can be solved.
"We have been in discussion with people at the state of Ohio about that," he said.
He toured the site this week with Jay Black, Jr., Mayor Jack Ford's chief of staff, and Steve Best, the mayor's commissioner of real estate. Mr. Baumhower, who was not available for comment yesterday, has publicly alluded to the possible supplier park as recently as last month, but did not disclose its specific location or other details.
Mr. Black is hesitant to promote the site, however, saying there is no plan for development and other sites are being considered for development, too. "We're just looking for opportunities for development and that was presented as a potential site to be used," he said.
Officials from the Regional Growth Partnership are involved with exploring the business park idea, which also might include land between Matzinger and the rail lines, just south of the triangular parcel.
Accessing the site, one of the largest undeveloped areas inside the city of Toledo that might be best suited for industrial use, has some major problems, officials said. Stickney has a bridge over the Ottawa River north of the Toledo Jeep factory, then goes under heavy-duty electric towers, and then crosses at ground level some rail lines.
Chrysler contracts with its suppliers forbid them from using roads that could be blocked by railroad cars because of the automaker's concerns of meeting just-in-time delivery schedules, officials said.
So one solution is to build a bridge or special roadway from the Jeep factory over the river and over or under the power lines and over or under the railroad tracks to provide unimpeded access, officials said.
The growth partnership has commissioned a feasibility study, for about $10,000, for a possible overpass or underpass between the 200 acres and the Toledo Jeep factory. The agency declined to release the study by done last month by Mannik & Smith Group In., a Maumee engineering firm.
But officials said access was possible and outlined the potential engineering and construction costs, which growth partnership officials declined to disclose.
Eileen Granata, interim chief operating officer at the agency, said the organization did not want to jeopardize the potential project by releasing too much detail. But she said the idea has enough merit to explore ways of resolving the railroad tracks problem.
Once answers are in hand, she said, her agency, the city, and the state likely will create a formal plan to ready the 200 acres for development, Ms. Granata said.
The site could be very good for suppliers to Jeep, she said. Chrysler is aware of the idea but has not provided input or made a commitment to help develop the site, she added.
She declined to say whether any auto suppliers had been contacted about interest in such a business park, but said local officials have reason to believe they would be interested.
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