June 25, 2016

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Medina County coalition obtains $1 million cleanup grant

MEDINA — A Medina-area coalition received a $1 million grant Wednesday to assess brownfield sites where redevelopment has been hurt because of potential contamination.

The U.S. EPA Brownfields Assessment Grant was awarded to the coalition composed of Medina city, townships of Medina, Montville, Lafayette and York, and Chippewa Lake.

This old gas station at 426 W. Liberty St., Medina, may be eligible to be cleaned up as part of a federal brownfields grant. (GAZETTE FILE PHOTO)

This old gas station at 426 W. Liberty St., Medina, may be eligible to be cleaned up as part of a federal brownfields grant. (GAZETTE FILE PHOTO)

“Longterm, this is the first step to redevelop brownfield sites, which will benefit surrounding neighborhoods and also be a good economic development tool since it will attract more business and economic activity,” Planning Director Greg Hannan said.

There are about 300 acres of brownfields in the area, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The assessments will help identify human health risks, with the eventual goal of cleaning the targeted sites for redevelopment or reuse.

The coalition was one of three in Ohio to be awarded the assessment funds.

Overall, the EPA announced awards of $76 million through Brownfields Assessment and Cleanup grants and the Revolving Loan Fund in 2011.

Brownfields are areas where the redevelopment of land is hindered by the presence or potential presence of contamination. They can include residential, commercial and industrial properties.

According to the EPA, $500,000 of the assessment grant is aimed specifically toward petroleum and the other $500,000 to hazardous substances, such as industrial waste.

“Petroleum is the most common certainly with gas stations,” Hannan said. “There are some vacant or underutilized industrial facilities that may have contamination from chemicals over the years.”
As an example, he cited the gas station at 426 W. Liberty St.

The building on the site has a collapsed roof and underneath are four unused gas storage tanks.

The tanks fill with rainwater that seeps into the soil, and at least one caused contamination, according to the Ohio Bureau of Underground Storage Tanks.

The grant funds will assess and identify potentially contaminated sites, and then plan cleanup activities.

The assessments also may identify properties that are thought to be contaminated but are not, Hannan said.

The brownfields must be within the coalition’s jurisdictions and meet EPA eligibility criteria.

A committee of grant recipients will be established to determine sites to target, although the process of choosing has not been developed yet, Hannan said.

Assessments will begin in the fall.

Sites identified as brownfields will be prioritized based on eligibility, access, marketability and community impact.

The committee will get authorization from property owners to hire environmental consultants to complete assessments on a property, he said.

If cleanup is necessary, the city will pursue several funding programs through the U.S. EPA Brownfield Cleanup Program and the Clean Ohio Revitalization and Assistance Funds.

Hannan said being a recipient of the Brownfield Assessment grant means the city is more likely to receive redevelopment grants once assessments are complete.

“To get cleanup redevelopment dollars, we have to have already completed these studies. That’s why we targeted this grant program first,” he said.

Contact Lisa Hlavinka at (330) 721-4048 or lhlavinka@medina-gazette.com.