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Ironton opens bids for riverfront revitalization

Ironton officials got one more duck in a row Tuesday in its efforts to develop a riverfront park and announced new funding for a key piece of the project’s plans.

Mayor Rich Blankenship said the city has received a $100,000 Natureworks grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to construct walking and bicycle trails for the city’s riverfront park. The trails will be part of the first phase of the riverfront development.

“We know folks like to walk and ride their bikes and this will give them a venue to do that,” Blankenship said.

The city has gotten Natureworks grants the past three years in a row and have used them to build the new Etna Street skatepark and to alleviate soil erosion along the riverfront.

The grant was announced late Monday, only one day before the city opened bids on its riverfront remediation project.

The apparent low bidder for the remediation portion of the development project is Mark Allard Excavation of South Webster, with a bid of $893,819.16. Blankenship said two other bids were submitted, EMS Environmental, with a bid of $985,902.75 and Assured Management Group with a bid of $1,040,700.

Both of those firms are based in northern Ohio.

Blankenship noted that no Lawrence County company submitted a bid for the project. He said the city may accept one of the other bids and does not necessarily have to take the lowest if it is not the best. He hopes to have the bid officially awarded later this week.

A ground breaking for the remediation project is set for 1 p.m. Friday at the riverfront.

The successful bidder will remove five feet of contaminated soil from the site and replace it with five feet of uncontaminated soil. This will clear the way for the site to be used for various forms of recreation, such as the aforementioned trails, picnic areas, and so forth.

The remediation project is being paid for with a $1.5 million Clean Ohio grant. The riverfront project includes two parcels of property that lie between the Center Street landing and an undeveloped area of riverbank. The parcels of land that requires the remediation were once used for industry.

Blankenship said the city will apply for other grants in the future to help pay for the riverfront park.

The riverfront development was placed on the drawing board a little more than three years ago. Blankenship said at times the pace may have seemed slow to those looking from the outside. But, he said, city officials have been working diligently on the project and the fruits of that labor are beginning to show.

“We want people to know we have been working hard, and we’ve been proactive and are working to make a riverfront people can use and be proud of,” Blankenship said.