City, county net Clean Ohio funds

Published 10:15 am Thursday, June 30, 2011

The City of Ironton and Lawrence County are among 17 statewide recipients of Clean Ohio Revitalization Grants, the Department of Development announced Wednesday.

The city will get approximately $1.5 million and the county will receive $794,565 of the total $27 million that will be awarded throughout the state to help communities with brownfield clean-up.

The city’s portion will be used to further its efforts at revitalizing its riverfront property. The $1.5 million go toward the remediation of two pieces of property, one known as the Brammer parcel, which is owned by the Ironton Port Authority, and the Wharf parcel, which the city owns. The properties are between undeveloped riverbank to the north and The Fuzzy Duck restaurant to the south. The remediation will involve removing contaminated soil and replacing it with clean soil.

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Mayor Rich Blankenship said the project started three years ago and that the city has been working diligently towards the riverfront revitalization.

“This is not a process that happened overnight,” Blankenship said. “It’s ongoing. These things take time. This is another step in the process.”

The mayor said the fact that the county and city were able to obtain the funding is a compliment.

“It’s great for the city and great for the county,” Blankenship said. “We’re talking 17 project in the state and two were from the county. It shows something about (our) work ethic.”

The mayor said he is hopeful that the remediation can start within the next few months. Eventually, the city as well as IPA and the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization hope to develop the area into a public park with a boat ramp, walking and biking paths as well as a building for retail, commercial and residential use.

Lawrence County’s $794,565 in Clean Ohio funds will go to cleaning up the former Alpha Portland Cement Plant in Upper Township, just outside of Ironton.

“It is one of the biggest eyesores and dangers to the residents who live nearby,” Lawrence County Commissioner Les Boggs said. “This has been a project in the works for about three years. The good news is we have an end-user when the land is revitalized.”

Marietta Industrial Enterprise, a material handling company, has plans to put in a satellite distribution warehouse, according to Cheryl Bolender for the Ice Creek Land Co., owner of the land.

That 30,000-square-foot warehouse could bring in 10 to 15 jobs to the county, Bolender said.

“We have some other developers who have expressed some interest, but until it is remediated and cleaned up we can’t move forward with the others,” she said.

Bolender expects cleanup work to begin in the fall and will take about a year and half, after which the EPA must approve the cleanup before any commercial developments can begin.

“One of the reasons we got the funds is because we were listed as a new jurisdiction over somebody who had applied previously for these funds,” Boggs said. “Marietta has agreed to a 10-year lease. That means they are committed to bringing these jobs.”