DeWine announces brownfield grants in Mansfield OH; $3M awarded for Westinghouse site cleanup
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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine Tuesday morning announced the first round of Ohio Department of Development Brownfield Program awards, providing funds for demolition and remediation of the former Westinghouse “A” building and the concrete slab along West Fifth Street.
The governor announced the Mansfield project is getting $3 million for cleanup of petroleum tanks and hazardous materials and demolition.
Richland County Land Bank Director Amy Hamrick and Richland County Commissioner Tony Vero confirmed the Westinghouse (Coffman) Building at 200 E. Fifth St. now has $4 million for the projects. The city of Mansfield and Richland County each provided $500,000 to the project for a $1 million match, Vero said.
DeWine said there are dozens of contaminated properties around the state. He said the brownfield remediation program is awarding $60 million in Round 1. This round is 78 separate projects in 35 counties, including assessment projects.
“When it was new I’m sure it was a great symbol for the community and it is now time to move on,” DeWine said. “The city and county leaders have been chipping away on this project for a number of years, trying to complete the cleanup of this site to make way for a better future as Mansfield works to revitalize its downtown.”
The press conference took place outside the former Westinghouse building, built in 1918. DeWine and his entourage stood outside the deteriorating building, once a thriving factory with many uses.
Hamrick said the land bank applied to the ODOR program, asking for $3 million.
Tuesday, she said the demolition and remediation project could be put out for bid in early June.
“We’ve been working on the bid specs for four or five months,” Hamrick said.
Building may be imploded
Richland County treasurer and Land Bank chairman Bart Hamilton said the Westinghouse building, an eyesore for years with its broken windows and debris, may have to be imploded and dropped to the east side of the property as the railroad tracks are close by with trains coming through daily, which needs to stay open.
“We’ve been talking about some different solutions and one of the fun solutions might be to actually blow the thing up,” he said of the brick building. “And drop it this way so we won’t have to have the guy from the railroad here everyday.”
Hamilton said the cleanup of the 17-acre slab may have to be divided into 10 sections depending on a lot of lab services to take care of the project. The cleanup money must be used before June 2023.
“We’re probably going to dig part of it up, then stop and test it, pending on what happens from there, they’re going to tell us to get rid of that dirt of leave it or whatever. And that process is going to continue,” Hamilton said.
“We’re not the only ones doing this and I’m not sure there’s enough labs and people that specialize in this kind of stuff to do all this work,” Hamilton said.
“There’s a lot of work ahead. Getting the money and writing the grant is kind of the easy part,” Hamilton said.
Mansfield Mayor Tim Theaker said Tuesday was a great day.
“For the longest time it was a concern because nobody knows what’s underneath this,” Theaker said. “There could be so much contamination. With years past with Westinghouse, there were no environmental rules. I’m sure there was contamination. That’s why the one building, the power plant was torn down. That had so much contamination. That cost over $1 million to tear that building down and they had to haul everything away to a Pennsylvania landfill,” Theaker said. “But it was something that we worked on. I know that law director John Spon and I and Rep. Mark Romanchuk worked really hard to get that building down.”
He added the land bank and Richland County commissioners worked to get this building down and to get the money for this project.
“To try to clean this whole area cleaned up so we can develop it is something we are very, very hopeful for this area,” Theaker said.
DeWine also announced other awards to the land bank for Richland County cleanup projects, including $41,250 for the cleanup of a site adjacent to the Madison Township Fire Department. The land bank was awarded a $56,250 grant for an assessment of a lot at 111 Orchard St., which was formerly a tool and die shop and other businesses.
Police department also receiving a grant
Also, the Mansfield Police Department received a $272,000 Ohio Crime Reduction grant to increase the range of its gun shot detection technology and response times to crime, DeWine said. The Northern Ohio Violent Crime Consortium, including Mansfield/Richland County law enforcement and other law enforcement agencies in Akron, Lorain and more, received a total of $130,418.
Each of the 88 counties in Ohio is guaranteed $1 million under the brownfield program and Richland was awarded another $3 million in addition.
The city of Mansfield and Richland County each provided $500,000 to the project for the $1 million match, Vero said.
Vero said the estimated cleanup for the building is $1 million and the slab, $4 million.
The Ernie Coffman family, which owned the property at 200 Fifth St., donated the building to the land bank. The “A” building is next to the former Westinghouse site.
Westinghouse Electric Products Co. began in Pittsburgh in 1886. The Mansfield plant opened in 1918 and underwent changes in ownership until the sprawling factory was closed in 1990.