November 24, 2015

Synergy pitches “Crew Lodge” to Mercer County

By Kate Johnson

Public hearing came in at no public attendance on the most recent presentation for a crew lodge facility to accommodate plant workers. Synergy Building Solutions and Logistics LLC CEO and President Jack Arbess stood in front of the county planning and zoning commission with an application for a zoning change on 10.0148 acres of Gerald Pischel’s land from agriculture to commercial. Synergy is a real estate development company with projects in Colorado, North Dakota, and Canada.
One of the first questions asked was, “what is the difference between crew lodge and man camp?” The word “man camp” has become such a scary word that facilities desire to not be seen that way.
“To be perfectly frank, the word man camp has become a bad word,” said Arbess, meanwhile assuring the commission that his facility is much superior in comparison to the realm of man camps.
Arbess’s main focus was that the facility is not a hotel. The rooms and homes are leased out to companies who take on the responsibility of safety and screening. It is written into the lease that companies have to conduct background checks and drug tests on anyone residing on their premises. This facility does not have security on site.
The commission made the statement that this would lay an extra burden on the Sheriff’s Department in that area.
“We will not have security, but we will have a secure facility,” said Arbess, addressing their concern.
The building will be secured by personalized access cards. The cards will swiped at doors to grant entrance and will create an up-to-date, real-time manifest of who is the facility.
The crew lodge will have a management rotation, always having someone on-site living there. This rotation would be between two to three people switching off every few weeks. Every few weeks, house keeping would arrive to clean the buildings.
The homes/facilities the plant workers would be living in would be a modular-type home. They would have a common area – theater seats, flat screen TV – and a kitchen. There would be six bedrooms, each with its own personal bathroom.
On the inside, the facility will be considered more hotel-like, with all the basic amenities individuals would need within the rooms, including a flat-screen TV and wireless Internet capabilities.
Parking spaces are located directly outside the building in which each individual would reside, with a one-to-one bed-to-parking spot ratio. There will not be buses available to carry each shift to the plant. However, Arbess assumed the workers would carpool with each other.

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