Ironton may get sports complex

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 15, 2022

Waiting for federal approval on $3M project

Lawrence County may be on track to get a sports complex thanks to a grant from the state to reclaim old mine properties.

Pending federal approval, $3 million from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization (AMLER) project could be used by the Lawrence County Port Authority for Gateway Regional Sports and Recreation Complex near Ironton. The complex would consist of outdoor adventure opportunities and multi-use sports fields.

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“We are so excited to be able to help these communities prosper – both economically and recreationally,” ODNR director Mary Mertz said. “Thanks to these AMLER funds, designated areas will be transformed into beautiful spaces where people can walk, bike and enjoy Ohio’s outdoors and history.”

No timeline has yet been set for when the sports complex project will start.

Stephanie O’Grady, a media and outreach specialist for ODNR said the construction start date is fluid and depends on a few things.

“Once approved by OSMRE, the Lawrence County Port Authority will have to provide a detailed project design, technical analysis, and ensure all legal and regulatory requirement are met. An environmental review will also need to be complete to ensure the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements are met before OSMRE issues an Authorization to Proceed,” she explained. “Once the Port Authority completes these steps, construction can begin.”

Abandoned mine lands (AML) are sites that were mined for coal prior to 1977.

Project sites eligible include unreclaimed, previously reclaimed or lands adjacent to abandoned coal mine lands or polluted waters or communities impacted by historic coal production. Chosen projects must follow the guidelines set forth in OSMRE’s AMLER Guidance Document. ODNR administers the federal AML program.

Prior to 1977, federal statute did not require restoration of desirable environmental conditions to surface mined areas.

The Division of Mineral Resources Management oversees the safe and environmentally sound development and restoration of mineral and fossil fuel extraction sites. The division also restores abandoned mine land, enforces mining safety laws, and ensures the protection of citizens, land, and water resources.