Tuesday, December 9, 2003

Grants awarded for cleanup

Millions to help clear former industrial sites

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FAIRFAX - The Clean Ohio Council awarded a $3 million grant Monday for the demolition and cleanup of the old Ford transmission plant in this small eastern Hamilton County village.

Cincinnati also received a $3 million grant to clean up a 17-acre industrial area and railroad and scrap rail yard on Baymiller Street in Queensgate, said Mike Hogan, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Development.

In addition, Middletown received $3 million to clean up and demolish structures on an old, 17-acre industrial site on Ohio 4.

Fairfax leaders said the grant would spark business redevelopment along Red Bank Road. The artery is being widened. Better flood controls, new curbs and storm sewers also are being installed.

"It's key for the long-term future viability of Fairfax," Administrator Jennifer Kaminer said. "This will keep us a strong community for decades to come."

A developer, Red Bank Road LLC, has pledged to build a lifestyle center mixing retail stores and offices on the 34-acre Ford parcel.

The new development is slated to open in spring 2006. Plans call for 360,000 square feet of retail and 50,000 square feet of offices. The development could yield 1,150 jobs.

The grant could ease the finances for this village of about 1,950 residents. A proposed income tax increase failed last month in a tie vote.

Voters will be asked in March to decide whether to raise the village's income tax from 1.25 percent to 1.75 percent.

Last year, Fairfax had to take out a $400,000 loan because easements officials needed to purchase for flood control and road widening along Red Bank cost more than expected, Kaminer said.

It was the first time since the 1960s that Fairfax had to borrow money.

In all, Fairfax has shelled out about $1.3 million over the last two to three years for several easements and properties along Red Bank to get the projects going, she said.

If the income tax fails in March, Fairfax leaders may be forced to cut some services or ask voters to raise property taxes, Kaminer said.

Clean Ohio Fund

The Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund is a portion of the $400 million Clean Ohio Fund approved by Ohio voters in November 2000. Voters gave the state the ability to issue $200 million for brownfield redevelopment activities and $200 million for preservation of greenspace.

The Ohio Department of Development, through its Office of Urban Development, is implementing the brownfield portion of the bond in consultation with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Monday's grant approvals still are pending a final, routine OK early next year by the Ohio State Controlling Board. The money should be doled out by February or March 2004.


E-mail jedwards@enquirer.com

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