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Broadview Heights seeks environmental assessment grant for land at Interstate 77 and Ohio 82

August 28, 2018

Broadview Heights seeks environmental assessment grant for land at Interstate 77 and Ohio 82

BROADVIEW HEIGHTS, Ohio -- The city may learn early next month whether it qualifies for grant money that would fund the assessment -- and possibly the cleaning -- of a potentially contaminated site at Interstate 77 and Ohio 82.

In June, the city applied for the grant from the Northcoast Brownfield Coalition, a partnership between the Cuyahoga County and Cleveland departments of development, the county Board of Health and the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority.

The coalition seeks federal funding for the rehabilitation and redevelopment of brownfields -- which contain pollutants and hazardous substances due to previous industrial or commercial activity -- in Cuyahoga County.

Other communities have also sought coalition funding. In April, for example, the City of Lakewood applied for a coalition grant for a hazardous-waste assessment of the former Mack Products Co. building on Hird Avenue.

Mary Louise Madigan, spokesperson for Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish, said the coalition is scheduled to review and score Broadview Heights’ application in early September and decide if the city will receive funding.

Barrier to development

In Broadview Heights, the city wants to assess three vacant parcels at the northwest corner of I-77 and Ohio 82, behind businesses on Treeworth Boulevard. According to the city’s grant application, the three parcels total 60 acres, although the Cuyahoga County Fiscal Office website shows a total of 49 acres.

According to county records, most of the land is owned by a company called Ahek Inc. About 5 acres is owned by HSL Royalton LLC. Ahek was incorporated in 1987 and HSL Royalton was created in 2015, according to the Ohio Secretary of State website.

Part of the site is zoned for offices and laboratories. The rest is zoned as an “interstate highway shopping center district,” which under Broadview Heights code allows movie theaters, offices and office parks, department stores and “variety stores.”

City officials said the property once contained a landfill for construction and demolition debris, which is generally considered a clean form of waste. The materials include brick, concrete and masonry materials.

Nevertheless, the mere possibility of contamination, and the costs associated with assessing and cleaning the property, have been enough to chase away potential developers, city officials said.

“There is no formal plan (for redevelopment), but there has been interest from various parties expressed over the past 10 years,” Kristina Sorensen, the city’s economic development coordinator, said in the grant application. “However, the barrier to development always comes back to the unknown type of contaminants, and cost of remediation.”

Sorensen did not return emails regarding when the site was last used as a construction and demolition debris landfill. She also didn’t provide an application attachment that reportedly shows contact information of the property owners.

The city would like to see 40 acres redeveloped and about 20 acres preserved as green space, according to the grant application.

To receive a grant, the city must obtain permission from the property owners to enter the site. Sorensen, in her grant application, said the city was still working with the property owner or owners for that access.

Assess and remediate

According to a brownfield-grant program summary provided by the county, services covered under the grant include environmental evaluations -- such as soil testing, asbestos surveys and lead-based paint inspections -- and remediation plans.

The Northcoast Brownfield Coalition, county Board of Health and representatives of “local community development organizations” make funding recommendations based on:

potential economic benefits to assessing and redeveloping a property;the viability of redevelopment;possible health and environmental hazards emanating from the property;and the grant applicant’s efforts to secure funds from other sources.

Once the coalition approves funding, the county negotiates with private environmental firms for the site evaluations.

If remediation is needed, the county applies to the United States Environmental Protection Agency for a loan that would pay for site cleanup. Loans of up to $500,000 are given to private developers or businesses that own the contaminated site, and the owners must match 20 percent of the loan amount with their own dollars.

Municipalities or nonprofits that own project sites are eligible for “subgrants” of up to $200,000 for remediation. The municipalities and nonprofits are required to match 20 percent of whatever the county appropriates for the work.

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