OHIO Brownfield cleanup funding would help Mahoning Valley

The bill's sponsor expects the governor to sign it into law by the end of summer.
CHAMPION -- When the time comes for the state to distribute the money from a $400 million bond issue for brownfield cleanup and green-space preservation, the Mahoning Valley will be right in the thick of things, vows a legislator who sponsored the bill in the Ohio House.
"We've put together a system where the Mahoning Valley would not be left out," state Rep. Charles Blasdel of East Liverpool, R-3rd, said today.
"In a lot of the state proposals, the smaller communities get left out. But we worked to give access to the Valley."
Blasdel made the comments at Kent State Trumbull Campus after a closed-door meeting with other legislators and business and labor leaders to discuss the bond issue.
The bill, approved Tuesday by the House, could be on the Senate floor in two weeks, Blasdel said. It is expected to be signed by the governor by the end of the summer.
Details: The bill would provide $200 million for brownfield cleanup, $175 million for green-space preservation and $25 million for farmland preservation.
To obtain brownfield money, communities would submit applications to regional public works committees and the committees would prioritize the area's top six projects and send that to the state Clean Ohio Council for approval, said Blasdel, who is lobbying to serve on that council.
The original proposal would have permitted four state agencies to determine which projects throughout the state would get the brownfield money, which would have seen Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati getting most of the money and other communities left out in the cold, Blasdel said.
With the cooperation of other Valley legislators, Blasdel said he succeeded in getting that provision changed.
"We can compete this way," he said. "We've put ourselves in the position to prioritize local projects."
What this means: At least now the Valley would have a level playing field to compete for those state dollars, said state Rep. John Boccieri of New Middletown, D-57th.
The green-space money would be divided among 19 districts in the state. Public works subcommittees would decide how that money is spent.
Each county would receive an initial $109,375 allocation and the rest would be divided by county on a per-capita basis, Blasdel said.
The seven local legislators at today's announcement said it's premature to name projects, but once the bill is signed into law, the process will move fast.

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