MAHONING RIVER Donors sought for dredge study

The local money will be used to match state and federal funds.
WARREN -- Mayor Hank Angelo hopes area businesses contribute to come up with the local match to get $3 million in state and federal funds for a feasibility study to dredge the Mahoning River.
The Alliance of Mahoning Valley Governments met this week to talk about the plan, which involves communities along the river coming up with $75,000.
Massillon is receiving a $32 million Ohio Environmental Protection loan to upgrade its waste treatment plant.
The Massillon project is eligible for an OEPA program aimed at stream restoration projects and Massillon has agreed to include the Mahoning River dredging project's feasibility study as one of their stream restoration projects. The Ohio grant would be used as the $1.5 million local match to garner a $1.5 million federal EPA grant.
In return, Massillon is asking for a $75,000 administrative fee.
"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we can't let it pass us by," said William D. DeCicco, chairman of the Mahoning River Consortium.
Tax deductible: Angelo is recommending that local communities ask the private sector to make contributions because they would be tax deductible and would lessen the burden on municipalities.
"It's a great cause for generating $3 million," Angelo said.
A letter from Commissioner James G. Tsagaris from Gary Newbrough, director of Trumbull County Planning Commission, said the majority of local governments have verbally agreed to pay or raise their share.
DeCicco said the consortium aims at 45 days to 60 days to have the entities raise their shares.
History: In May 1999, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed a $500,000 study outlining how to remove industrial pollution from the river, considered one of the five most polluted in the state.
Steels mills operating along the river from the early 1900s to the mid-1980s, discharging contaminants into the river. Since 1988, the Ohio EPA has warned residents against any contact with the river sediment.
The 1999 study called for dredging 31 miles of the Mahoning, from north of Warren to the Pennsylvania state line.
Keith Riley, assistant chief of OEPA's Northeast District office, Twinsburg, said the feasibility study will give a better idea of the cost of the project to remove the contaminated sediment in the base and along the banks of the river.
It would take about 13 years and $100 million for the dredging project. Of that about $35 million would be needed as a local match.
"We're really excited about the opportunity," Riley said. A cleaned-up Mahoning River would "really be an asset to the Mahoning Valley."

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