Tuesday, September 19, 2000

Port authority set to buy Sharonville site

By Cliff Peale
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Cincinnati and Hamilton County Port Authority should have its first contaminated property to clean up and redevelop Oct. 19.

        That's when a Hamilton County sheriff's sale will auction the former Green Industries site in Sharonville. Because KeyBank and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have assigned $3 million liens to the Port Authority, it can buy the property for $6 million less than anyone else.

        But that will be only the first step. Officials at the agency have been promising for three years to buy and redevelop abandoned industrial sites, often called “brownfields.”

        They think that is the surest path to bringing solid jobs into dozens of urban neighborhoods, particularly those along the Interstate 75 corridor.

        “We haven't done the heavy lifting yet,” said Randy Welker, executive director of the Port Authority. “The first thing you have to do is get control of the property. Then you have to clean it up.”

        The city of Sharonville has agreed to advance the Port Authority about $300,000 to pay back taxes. The agency then will spend more than $1 million to clean up the 9-acre Green Industries site before searching for a developer, Mr. Welker said.

        The Green Industries plant closed in 1995. More than 350,000 gallons of toxic substances — such as liquid cyanide and chromic acid sludge — were pulled out of the ground. Another 70 tons of contaminated soil had to be hauled away.

        Port Authority officials have said they need a working project, because Cincinnati and Hamilton County officials are poised to add the work of riverfront development to its mission — a restructuring that some think will dilute the brownfields agency.


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