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Cleanup of Ironton Iron set to begin

After four years, a groundbreaking is scheduled at the old Ironton Iron site on Friday to get a cleanup under way.

Outgoing Mayor John Elam calls getting the site to the point where it can be remediated a labor of love. It is one that he started soon after taking office.

Ironton Iron closed in 2000 and since 2004, Elam and the city have been pursuing grants to get the former foundry and manufacturing site cleaned up for commercial or manufacturing use.

“It has so much potential value,” Elam said of the 26-acre property on South Third Street. “It is one of the largest, if not the largest, commercially developable pieces of property within the city limits that has existing infrastructure.”

He said one of his concerns was that it would remain a “concrete graveyard.”

“This will allow the city to have a large piece of property that is marketable and developable which further stabilizes the foundation that we have built over the past four years,” he said.

Two groups, SRW Environmental Services, Inc., an environmental consulting firm, and Cors & Bassett, LLC, the city’s legal representative, were part of the team that went after cleanup funds.

In 2005 the city, SRW, and Cors & Bassett got $300,000 from the Ohio Department of Development’s Clean Ohio Fund program to complete comprehensive environmental assessments of the site to see if there was any pollution. Some limited soil and groundwater contamination was discovered and additional Clean Ohio Fund assistance was applied for this spring.

These funds, known as Clean Ohio Revitalization Funds, are awarded based on a statewide competition, which involves a lengthy application and review process. Ultimately the Ohio Department of Development’s Clean Ohio Council approved Ironton’s second request for funding to help the city use the property more productively.

In October, the city was awarded $2,499,200 to complete demolition and environmental cleanup at the site, readying it for future redevelopment.

The city is discussing plans for the site from developers and potential purchasers while the site is being cleaned up.

Some groups have expressed interest in the site for redevelopment, though no plans are finalized.

Elam said the next step is to have a plan to find out the best usage of the property.

“We want to attract a company that is a good fit with Ironton,” he said. “You want to have something that is a long-term employer that will not succumb to changes in technology. Generally the things you can count on that people will always need are health care and medical-related equipment and food.”