North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has inserted $15 million into his budget for the development of a marine industrial park in Perquimans County, and another $1 million for the recovery of an aging shipyard in Elizabeth City. They are part of the governor’s plan to provide jobs and infrastructure improvements in rural counties.
According to the Daily Advance, Cooper would like to put $14.8 million into Perquimans’ Marine Industrial Park, which would cover about half of its cost. The government money will “build upon past state and local investments in land acquisition, an access road, water and sewer infrastructure, and water access improvements,” according to the paper.
County officials told the paper that they've planned to develop the park on 72 acres near the county's recreation department. They have the permits to dig a boat basin and 4,600 feet of shoreline bulkhead. They've also got about $6 million in funding for the project, which they hope will bring boat builders and other marine suppliers.
“It further shows how serious this endeavor is and that our elected officials are realizing the promise of the park,” County Manager Frank Heath told the paper. “We will be working with our legislators to ensure that this carries forward into the final budget.”
The governor’s budget also includes $1 million for a shipyard acquisition on Elizabeth City’s waterfront. Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Michael Regan had seen the shipyard and noted its importance to the downtown waterfront. The city tried to buy it several years ago, but said the cleanup costs were prohibitive. The cleanup alone might cost $1 million.
Until the shipyard's environmental problems are addressed, no private developer will consider investing in the property, said local officials.