Road rerouting proposal raises concerns
By By Lisa Tindell
The proposed rerouting of a county road to accommodate construction for a casino resort facility on the Creek Entertainment Center property raised some concerns and questions Monday.
Escambia County commissioners held a public hearing to discuss the plans to move Escambia County Road 14.
"We are concerned about moving our service lines," Mitchell Williams, chairman of the Freemanville Water System. "We have not been contacted concerning the moving of our service lines in that area."
Mark Kennedy, project manager for the proposed Wind Creek Hotel and Casino Resort, said provisions for the costs of moving the service are already in place.
"The Creek Entertainment Center will assume the costs of any waterlines being relocated because of this project," Kennedy said. "We have already made arrangements with other service providers to help defray costs of moving their services. Frontier Communications has agreed to abandon their fiber optic lines and move them along a new route as we move forward with the project."
Kennedy said power for the current facility, as well as the proposed facility, is provided by Southern Pine Electric Cooperative.
"We have an arrangement with Southern Pine for power service," Kennedy said. "They will abandon their utility easement on our behalf and are in the process of constructing a new substation to accommodate the large power use expected during construction and when general operations in the new facility begins."
Dan Weaver, system engineer with Southern Pine Electric Cooperative, said the power provider is currently assessing information provided by CEC concerning potential power loads needed by the proposed facility.
"We are currently assessing the information we have been given by CEC to determine the best way to provide power to their new facility," Weaver said. "We will be constructing a new substation in the area to carry the power load there. From the designing phase through to the completion of construction of a substation takes about a year. We are moving on through the design phase now and have ordered materials needed to construct the substation."
Weaver said the costs involved in rerouting service lines and construction of a substation are substantial, but will be worth the expense based on expected use by the facility.
"We know the construction of the substation and rerouting of lines will be worth the costs involved," Weaver said. "According to the information provided to us, the potential connected load is expected to be approximately 13.4 megawatts. The actual demand load will be just over 7 megawatts. If that holds true, that would be about twice the demand used by Trus-Joist. We are also aware that there may be spin-off businesses and industry along U.S. 21 in that area. It will mean increased revenue for Southern Pine."
Shirley Darby, a resident in the area along County Road 14 asked about the abandoned road's future once the area is abandoned.
"What will happen to the road bed once the new road is constructed?" Darby asked. "How will it affect the water run-off in the area? There are some concerns about that in the area."
Kennedy said the road would be removed after the opening of the rerouted County Road 14.
"We plan to dig up the current roadway," Kennedy said. "The area will used to construct portions of the new facility as well as parking areas. The water run-off will not be a problem. We have had topographic surveys done and will be working with environmental specialists to protect the land. We will be considerate of wetland areas and work toward being sensitive to the area. We want to be good neighbors and good stewards of the land and the watershed will not be problem."
Kennedy said the plan has gotten the full support of the officials in the City of Atmore.
"The city has given their support for the project," Kennedy said. "The plan to reroute County Road 14 changes the road that services the city's landfill. They are comfortable with the change and are in full support of the project."
Tim Martin, president/CEO of Creek Indian Enterprises, said there will be no interruption of traffic service because of the rerouting of the road.
"At no time during the construction will the use of County Road 14 be disrupted," Martin said. "The current road will remain open and usable until such time as the new road is completed and opened."
The current location of CEC is already undergoing renovations to prepare for the expansion of the facility. An opening date for the new facility was not made available by officials with Poarch Creek Gaming Authority.