Opportunity for growth

Contributed photo

An aerial view shows the entire length of the developed property along the lakefront at Eddyville's riverport. Eddyville Riverport and Industrial Development Authority owns about 250 acres on a Lake Barkley inlet that provides direct access to the Cumberland River. The riverport is also adjacent to Interstate 24 shown running in the top right corner of this image.

For most of its 44-year life, Eddyville's riverport has existed as an opportunity with promise to fulfill. But the City of Eddyville and its volunteer board appointed to oversee the facility are eager to see the riverport come into its own.

"Overall, the attitude has been wait and see," said Glen Kinder IV, treasurer of the six-member board that has commissioned a master plan to help develop the riverport. "The master plan will include economic analysis to learn what kinds of opportunities there are out there."

Kinder, a de facto spokesperson for the Eddyville Riverport and Industrial Development Authority, said, to his knowledge, there has never been a master plan associated with the riverport. Bacon Farmer Workman Engineering in Paducah is in the early stages of developing the plan, but Kinder hopes at least the first phase can be completed by this fall, giving the Authority a better glimpse of where the riverport stands and where it can head.

"We don't profess to know it all," Kinder said of seeking the help of an engineering firm.

Already, Eddyville's riverport is situated like no other in Kentucky. Of the eight developed riverports in the state, it is the sole one situated on a lake, where water levels on Lake Barkley can be controlled; and it is the only one deep within the state on the Cumberland River with immediate access to both a north-south and east-west interstate. Six of the others lie on the Ohio River and another on the Mississippi River.

The City of Eddyville is now the only government entity tied to the local riverport. When it was created in 1976, Lyon Fiscal Court and the City of Kuttawa joined in a three-way partnership. However, both wanted out around the turn of the century, and after reorganization in 2002, Eddyville took over ownership.

But Kinder said the Authority's goals and work is not Eddyville-centric.

"We tend to look at what we can do for the entire area," he said. "It can be a benefit to the community by creating jobs."

As the name might suggest, Eddyville Riverport and Industrial Development Authority oversees more than the 252-acre riverport it owns on Lake Barkley. It also is charged with developing the 125 or so acres inside Eddyville Industrial Park on U.S. 62. And last week, the Authority closed a deal on additional property linking the park to Paducah & Louisville Railway that runs behind its property.

Lake Barkley Partnership for Economic Development, representing Lyon, Caldwell and Crittenden counties, has worked closely with Eddyville and the Authority to set a course for the future of the riverport and industrial park and to assist with master planning. Of the three counties with which it is associated, only Lyon County offers a riverport and railroad access within an industrial park.

Currently, the industrial park is home to BGB Trucking and DHL Supply Chain, formerly Exel.

Those companies own their property and facilities. However, at the riverport, the Authority owns all the land used by its five tenants -- Agri-Chem, Gavilon, Paducah Barge, Hu-B's Offshore and Kentucky Fish Center.

Kinder said the master plan currently underway has help on the engineering staff from Craig Guess, a Lyon County connection on the team. The plan will set a course for the future of both the riverport and industrial park. Kinder said the long-term vision will strengthen the business currently done at both locations and, hopefully, attract new tenants to undeveloped portions of the properties.

"There are going to be some great opportunities in the future," Kinder said. "The master plan will show us what the future here is and allow us to figure out what we want to do."

The Authority board is comp0sed of Kinder, Chairman Billy Ray Coursey, Dennis Faulkner, Chris Hooks and David Hall. Eddyville Councilman Jerry Peek, a former mayor of the city, is also on the decision-making board that meets at 7:30 a.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the riverport office.

Though monthly meetings are open to the public, Kinder said a series of special forums to keep the community informed along the way will be scheduled as the master plan moves forward.