Half of the EPA money will be used to clean up an abandoned gas station.
By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
BOARDMAN -- Township officials call the Southern Boulevard property a disgrace, but a grant from the federal government will soon help turn an abandoned gas station there into something tasteful and useful.
The township, in conjunction with the city of Youngstown, is receiving $100,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to be split evenly for the cleanup of properties with leaking or outdated underground storage tanks. The two communities were among 40 selected for the program.
Township Administrator Curt Seditz said the township's $50,000 will be used for the above-ground cleaning process at the gas station. The ground may have been contaminated by underground gas tanks on the property. The property has been abandoned by its owners.
The gas station building was extensively damaged by fire and will likely need to be taken down, but the grant money will not be used to address that problem or the four outdated gas tanks below the ground.
Youngstown officials will use its share of the funds as part of the Mahoning River Corridor of Opportunity program. The program will work on cleaning a 1,300-acre area along the Mahoning River.
Township trustees spent months looking for the owners of the gas station last year, without success, in an effort to make them responsible for the building's cleanup. Trustees now hope to use eminent domain to acquire the property.
An appraisal will be done to determine what fair market value will be paid to the owners of the building should they be found. The federal grant will not be used to purchase the property, tear down the building or remove the underground tanks -- the township would be responsible for the cost of those things.
Seditz said officials are looking to start the eminent domain process by the end of the summer and begin the surface cleanup by the end of the year. Officials are hoping to place a much needed storm-water retention pond on the site.
"The county sales tax did fail, and that is a shame because we're talking about getting $70,000 to $80,000 through that program, and we were going to use that money to build the retention pond," said Seditz. "If we acquire the property, we will essentially be responsible for taking the building down and removing the tanks. We really need that retention area there."
Seditz said officials are piecing together a three-step plan on how the property will be acquired, cleaned and turned into a retention pond.