A key state official visited Defiance on Tuesday afternoon to announce the awarding of more than $700,000 for testing and cleanup of two former factory sites.
Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Department of Development, held a meeting at the Defiance County Commissioners Office to detail two county land bank grants – $529,114 for the cleanup of the former Vortex site on Jackson Avenue and $182,025 for an appraisal of the former Zeller Corp. property. on Baltimore Rd. (Land banks have recently been formed in counties across the region to deal more effectively with degraded or dilapidated properties.)
Both properties have been abandoned for years and have been seen as environmental eyesores and/or liabilities.
The Vortex property was abandoned in 2005 and the buildings there remain an eyesore while the Zeller property was abandoned in 2001.
Although the former Zeller factory has been removed, environmental risks remain on the property, so remedial action is required before redevelopment can take place. Officials hope the state will provide additional funds to clean up the site after an assessment.
The grants are part of a $60 million “brownfields remediation program” announced by the office of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. Announcements were held at various locations in Ohio on Tuesday.
“This is a big, big win for the City of Defiance and Defiance County,” Defiance Mayor Mike McCann said.
He added that he could not “overburden” his gratitude to Defiance County Treasurer Vickie Myers of the Land Bank and officials of the Maumee Valley Planning Organization “for helping us put in place the Land Bank, and certainly Governor DeWine and the Lt. Governor.. Husted has been very quietly a strong ally to us in Defiance and Northwest Ohio.
McCann noted that the Zeller property doesn’t present “a very good impression” as motorists enter Defiance from Baltimore Road. Additionally, officials would like to promote additional economic development in this region and hope that this could contribute to this effort.
The mayor noted that just around the corner – in the Enterprise Industrial Park, owned by the Plummer family – a new fertilizer plant (TKI) is planned.
“Getting Plummers (park) developed is the kind of thing that can help this area take off,” he said.
The money is separate from the million dollars each of Ohio’s 88 counties received for smaller brownfields remediation programs.
Two other zonal grants were also announced on Tuesday – $506,397 to clean up the former Britsch Gas bulk fuel plant in Fulton County and $90,000 to provide an environmental assessment of the former Eagle Pitcher site. Industries in Delta, also in Fulton County.
According to the governor’s office, a neighboring business hopes to expand onto the former Britsch site after the cleanup.