Negotiations to purchase former GE property ongoing

FILE I CJ

The General Electric glass plant is shown here, before the company moved out and the buildings were demolished. SPEDA executive director Chris Girdler said negotiations were still underway for the purchase of the property from GE for a new industrial park.

Negotiations are still under way between local governmental officials and General Electric to purchase the vacant Somerset Glass Plant property to develop an industrial park but a non-disclosure agreement has shut down talk about the project.

Chris Girdler, president and CEO of SPEDA (Somerset-Pulaski County Economic Development Authority), in an e-mail to the Commonwealth Journal said: "In reference to the GE Property, I have signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), but I can let you know that Judge (Steve) Kelley and Mayor (Alan) Keck and I are continuing to have ongoing dialogue with GE and they have been very helpful and the conversations have been productive."

A non-disclosure agreement is a contract through which parties agree not to disclose information covered by the agreement. An NDA creates a confidential relationship between the parties, typically to protect any type of confidential and proprietary information or trade secrets. As such, an NDA protects non-public business information.

Up to now General Electric officials have been transparent. They told the Commonwealth Journal they plan to sell the 85 acres off University Drive where the former glass plant had operated since 1959. They detailed almost every move as the iconic plant ceased operation and the sprawling structure was razed. GE was in the process of donating the baseball and softball field sites to the city for continued use by young people in this community.

Judge Kelley revealed the plan to try and acquire the GE property for an industrial park and, up to now, has talked freely about it. He said Tuesday information should come from SPEDA.

SPEDA has a challenge from Judge Kelley and Mayor Keck to be transparent. Openness adds to credibility of the organization's operation.

Apparently (and this is an educated guess) a third party, maybe a prospective industrial prospect, has become involved in the discussion about the GE property. A non-disclosure agreement is typical in industrial recruitment and industrial officials claim it is necessary during early stages. Third-party involvement seems a fair guess since efforts to acquire the GE property are certainly no secret.

The former Somerset Glass Plant property is perfect for an industrial plant. Infrastructure is already there. GE was the largest user of Somerset's plentiful natural gas, and, of course, within the city limits, water and sewer lines extend to the plant site.

SPEDA, in partnership with Pulaski County Fiscal Court and the City of Somerset, will also develop a new industrial park on 190 acres of land on East Ky. 80, near the location of the undeveloped northern bypass corridor.