State Lawmakers Want To Pull Plug On Global Transpark Project
Posted July 2, 2002 3:48 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — With the state in its worst budget crisis in recent history,
North Carolina Global Transpark
officials will have to operate with a lean budget this year. The state Senate wants to give the park less than half of what Transpark officials requested. Some lawmakers say it is time to cut back on the agency's budget, but supporters say they are too close to turn back now.
As some lawmakers see it, the project is a failed experiment. This year's budget may be less than half of what Transpark officials requested, which is about $1.6 million.
"I can understand the hopes and dreams of people that thought it was going to be a good idea and that it might turn into a RTP, but it just has not materialized," said Rep. Sam Ellis, D-Wake. "At some point, you have to say we're just throwing good money after bad and I think that time is now."
Residents have paid about $80 million in federal and state tax money to build the project. Supporters now say the 10-year investment is about to pay off. Until now, a good part of the money paid for one-time costs like new roads and a runway.
"A lot of the construction that has been undertaken is pretty much completed, so there is an amount of money that we don't need to get again. It would have been nice to have, but we don't need it," said Charles Edwards, executive director of the Transpark.
Now, the park will focus on bringing new business to the eastern part of the state.
Transpark officials said the $1.6 million is not as much as they had hoped for, but they said it is enough to make progress this year. Their two primary expenses right now are paying for their staff and doing some heavy-duty marketing to bring outside companies into the park.
Plus, Transpark officials said it would cost more in the short run to kill the project now. More than $30 million in federal money helped push the project along. If the Transpark is shut down, North Carolina residents would have to pay it back.
Even though lawmakers are split about how to handle the Global Transpark, construction is under way now to improve the airport's landing system. Almost $4 million has been earmarked for the improvements.