It may be that turning some of Odessa’s 266 unused drilling sites into commercial properties for housing, businesses, educational centers, parks and other things is an idea whose time has come.

Retired crane company owner Dick Gillham, a member of the Odessa Chamber of Commerce’s Grow Odessa board, said it last March and then saw a Grow Odessa committee conclude that it would be financially unfeasible to try to buy all the sites at once from the royalty owners. But piecemeal, Gillham says now, the concept is workable.

He said Wednesday that a Highway 80 businessman “hired a landman in Midland and in less than a year paid off the mineral owners and turned the drill site into 10 house lots.”

Gillham said his church, Westminster Presbyterian at 4901 Maple Ave., owns an adjacent 3.71-acre site that it may sell for the construction of an ECISD conference center by the Houston Endowment.

“The committee thought it would be impossible to get the mineral owners to release the drilling sites if they didn’t need the money, but I said that in 50 years we will be exactly where we are right now if we don’t do something,” he said.

“The main thing would be housing, which would increase tax revenues with no additional cost to the city because the sewer and streets are already there,” Gillham said last year.

He suggested then that adjacent properties could be purchased to facilitate horizontal drilling.

Study committee member Eddy Shelton said a piecemeal approach is the only one that will work. “We decided to put it aside till we can get a little bit more traction,” he said.

“It’s very complex to get the mineral owners to agree on anything. It would be very costly and it appeared to us not cost-effective to do the project. If it’s a site that’s big enough to put 10 homes on, that would be worth putting some money into.”

Shelton served on the committee with Drew Crutcher and Dr. Jimmy Goates. Grow Odessa was formerly the Odessa Industrial Development Corp.

According to the City of Odessa’s Drill Site Map Legend, the sites are all over town with the exception of the area bounded by JBS Parkway on the east, I-20 on the south, County Road West on the west and University Boulevard on the north.

There are 23 sites in the part of northeast Odessa that’s in Midland County and whose surface owners are unspecified on the city map.

The mineral owners are not identified in many instances, but the 107 surface owners listed on the map are the city with 51 plots; Stewart Estate, 28; Occidental Permian, 11, most of them west of County Road West and south of 16th Street; UTPB, nine; CMM 2007 5X5 Trust, eight; James R. Hurt, seven; ECISD and Methodist Orphan’s Home, six each; Harry R. Dieter, five; and Cardinal Homes, Family Dollar Distribution, Verna S. Headlee, Houston Endowment, Union Pacific Railroad and Walmart Stores, four each.

Also, ARCO Environmental Remediation, Ector County, Gordon Headlee Jr., P Bar Parks Bell Ranch and Texaco EP, three each; and Brown Wyly Construction, CA New Plan Texas Assets, Jack N. Mousa, Ann Rich Smith and Trustee Margaret Lyn Gready, MCM Properties, Permian Basin Land Development, SMI 2007 5X5 Trust, Tropicana Ltd. and University Gardens Joint Venture, two each.

Also with one each, SJ Properties, Antioch Christian Church, Mary Frances Barrow, Shirley A. Bartels, Ruben L. and Norma Berdoza, Eldon Blount Construction, Allan Brandon, Broncho Chevrolet, Calvary Baptist Church, Commonwealth Chartered Trust, H.E. Davis Family Partnership, Tom Davis Trust, DMAC Family, Fernando Dominguez, ECISD Trustee, Tommy Fambro, Four Star Oil and Gas, Ashley Garcia, Billy Jack Glover, Elida Gonzalez, Reigle Gordon, Harold L. and WaDonna Groomer and Emmet Vincent Headlee II.

Also, James and Gordon E. Headlee, James E. Headlee, Thomas and Claudia Headlee, HP Real Estate Venture, I-20-385 Development, Jesus and Sofia Ibarra, ICA Properties, Investment Corp. of America, Susan Elaine Ivey, Bobby Jackson, Knighten Service & Supply, Leeco Properties, Harvey Levario Jr., Life Challenge United Pentecostal Church, Lithia Real Estate, MARDEB LLC, Maxim Hospitality, Catherine Marie McKnight, Myrna Mendoza, Mesa Real Estate Partners, MIRC, Morrison Group and North Park Plaza.

Also, Northeast Odessa Development, NWC Development, Odessa Affordable Housing, Odessa Christian Faith Center, Odessa Development Corp., Odessa Housing Finance Corp., Odessa Industrial Development Corp., Odessa Youth Baseball Association, Oncor Electric Development, Stephen H. Parker, Permian Realty, Clyde P. Philpott, Pomeroy RO Equipment Rental, PPR Properties, Ronald D. Rains, Ratliff Ranch Co., Rebecca Lucille Stupfel Exempt GS Trust and Riodessa Development Group.

Also, Tommy Sandlin, Saulsbury Ventures, Billy June Sawyer, Clara Ilene Sissel, Marcella Jean Stocker, T Summer Breeze Inc., Temple Baptist Church, Texas Lone Star Storage Centers, Joanne Margaret Verkin, Sherry Ward, West Texas Boring, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Gary Whitehead and Dwain C. Youngblood.