JULIAN, W.Va. — State Senator Ron Stollings says he’s been told by the Justice administration there’s been a shift in plans to convert the sprawling former Hobet reclaimed mountaintop removal site into an industrial park.
The land, located in Boone and Lincoln counties, was a top priority during former Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s final year in office. The Division of Highways sold Garvee Bonds to finance the reconfiguration of the U.S. 119/Route 3 intersection and build a multi-lane highway to the Hobet site, renamed Rock Creek Industrial Park.
Stollings (D-Boone) said Sunday he was part of a conference call with Justice administration officials back on Thursday where different plans were discussed.
Stollings explained the changes in a Facebook post.
“The purpose of the project has been changed from developing an industrial park to military training and some forms of agriculture,” Stollings wrote.
Stollings went on to say there appears to be conflicting geotech data on what can be built on the reclaimed mining site. He expressed disappoint with the news.
In a Fall 2016 news conference then-Gov. Tomblin called the 12,000 acre mainly flat site a “dream come true” when it came to diversifying the state’s economy.
“For decades, our coal miners, workers and their families have kept our state strong,” Tomblin said. “Now it’s our turn to help them.”
The 2.6 mile road had a projected $100 million price tag and was going to be a design-build project. A company had been hired to lead the work. Stollings said he’s now been told the existing haul road will be upgraded instead.
The Justice administration had not responded to Stollings’ comments as of Sunday night.
Former Justice Chief of Staff Nick Casy pledged Justice’s support for Rock Creek in a news conference with Tomblin back in January.
“Governor-elect is as proud of this project as our governor is of this project,” Casey said that day.