By Michele Newbanks
An application was submitted by the Southeastern Ohio Port Authority for $600,000 in Ohio Brownfield Remediation Program grants and officials say a response should be returned any day.
The Ohio Department of Development stated properties applying for the program must meet the definition of brownfield.
A brownfield is defined as an abandoned, idled, or under-used industrial, commercial, or institutional property where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by known or potential releases of hazardous substances or petroleum.
Jesse Roush, the port authority’s executive director, said nothing is guaranteed yet, but the application was submitted for the program’s second round.
He said the submission was for the 50-acre site of the former American Municipal Power’s Richard H. Gorsuch generating station, the former Belpre Elementary, and the former Harmar Elementary.
“The (submissions) are assessment based, so they weren’t submitted for any demolition or remediation funding,” Roush said. “There were some challenges in identifying those sites.”
Getting an assessment on the properties, especially for asbestos at the schools, will help define the scope for remediation before demolition, he added.
“The grants are for those rust belt-type of former industrial or commercial spaces,” Roush said.
During the assessment, tests are run for typical environmental contaminants such as petroleum and chemicals.
Roush said the school districts would pay for remediation and demolition of the buildings. For the AMP Ohio site, the property owner would pay for remediation, and Roush said he is trying to purchase the property.
“We are actively trying to acquire that site and this assessment is a critical part of that acquisition,” he said. “The property has been vacant for 10 years and is a valuable asset.”
He said there are two truths about almost all of the brownfields — they occupy either critical infrastructure or they occupy location.
“They were there for a reason,” he said. “Typically it’s both. It’s both infrastructure and location.”
The first round of Ohio Brownfield Remediation Program grants were awarded in April. An additional $98 million in funds for round two will be awarded in the coming weeks.
“This is revitalization at its finest,” said Lt. Governor Husted in a recent press release. “These investments in cleaning up brownfields take blighted properties and turn them into parks, housing, or economic development sites that improve the quality of life for everyone in the local community.”
The release notes funds awarded will help to assess and clean up industrial, commercial, and institutional brownfield sites that are abandoned, idled, or underutilized due to a known or potential release of hazardous substances or petroleum. Following site remediation, properties can be redeveloped to revitalize neighborhoods and attract new economic development.
Michele Newbanks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.