Louisville officials formally dedicated Energy Drive on Monday. The new street connects Beck Avenue and the Chesapeake Energy’s Ohio field office with Route 44.
It’s an expensive stretch of highway costing $5.1 million and covering less than a mile.
But Energy Drive means much more to Louisville and Stark County than the construction price.
“It’s more than a road, it’s our future,” council member Rick Guiley said Monday evening as city officials dedicated the new street that connects Beck Avenue to state Route 44.
Energy Drive opens up the Beck Industrial Park. It’s the route that will be used most often by employees and contracts of Chesapeake Energy as they leave the company’s regional field office and head for the developing Utica Shale oil and natural gas fields.
It’s estimated that between 500 and 700 people will be employed at the complex once it’s operating.
A five-story office building is being constructed on the north side of the intersection of Energy Drive and Beck Avenue and should be finished within the year. Chesapeake already is storing equipment at the site. Plans also call for a 1,000-foot railroad spur and several 150-foot-tall silos for storing sand that will be used in the hydraulic fracturing of wells being drilled in the Utica.
Chesapeake bought more than 280 acres to build the complex. Officials believe that once the company is established more development will follow.
Mayor Patricia A. Fallot heaped much of the credit for what she called an “exciting day” on local developer William Jeffries, president of Groffre Investments, who worked hard to make sure the industrial park became Chesapeake’s home in Ohio.
Jeffries said he was only one of many people working on the project. “It took everybody to have this magic happen in this part of Stark County,” he said.
Jeffries gave credit to City Manager E. Thomas Ault and council members. He also noted the work done on the state level. The city secured a $3.5 million Job Ready Site grant from the state to build the road and develop the site. Louisville and Groffre Investments each contributed $750,000 toward the project.
“It wasn’t any one person. It was just the partnership that we had that made this happen,” Jeffries said.
About 25 people attended the dedication, not counting the occasional passerby using the newly opened road. The project required building a 420-foot bridge over the East Branch of the Nimishillen Creek. The bridge had to be long enough to cover the creek’s flood plain.
Local Chesapeake managers attended the program, but didn’t participate in the presentation.
Fallot also thanked managers of Hammontree & Associates and Beaver Excavating for work done to both local companies to plan and design the project, and to Stark Development Board for assisting with grant applications and other aspects.
Hammontree and Beaver Excavating now are building the Chesapeake complex.