$500,000 grant sought to clean up Girard Leatherworks site
By BOB COUPLAND
GIRARD — The Trumbull County Planning Commission is assisting the city in seeking a $500,000 brownfield cleanup grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to remediate and redevelop the former Girard Leatherworks property for recreational and commercial use.
Thomas “T.J.” Keiran, an environmental coordinator/ flood plain administrator with the planning commission, spoke Thursday to about a dozen residents at the city’s 2nd and 3rd ward block watch meeting at Girard Free Library.
He said the grant will cover costs for the needed environmental assessment of the site off U.S. Route 422 for any contaminants.
“The money will help clean up the site and remediate it. With this property right off Route 422 and adjacent to the river, there is excellent opportunity there for both recreational and commercial usage. We want to see Girard be successful with cleaning up this site for future use,” Keiran said.
He said the city is making a 20 percent match contribution of $100,000 to the project for a total of $600,000. The grant deadline submission is this fall with the city to know if they receive the grant by February 2020.
He said the $500,000 will be provided to the city over a three-year period.
Keiran said some funding already had been received for two initial environmental assessments that were completed in 2016 to determine the need to identify and detail some of the environmental concerns on the property.
The Girard Leatherworks site was once the home to two tannery operations dating back to the 19th Century. Ohio Leather was shuttered in the late 1960s and the property changed hands several times before fires in 1991 and 1992 destroyed nearly all the remaining structures.
After extensive litigation, the city acquired the property in 2014.
Councilmembers at the meeting said any plans for the project would require community input at a public meeting once the city decides what it wants to do with the property.
“There will be opportunity for public input on what the reuse of the site is going to be,” Keiran said.
First Ward Councilman Mark Ragozine said city officials have discussed a bike trail on the property, and city officials have met with the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber and the planning commission on plans for the site.
“We have discussed plans for mixed use of the property both recreational and commercial. We have renderings at the mayor’s office for a potential municipal park there. If we can connect to the local bike path, this can be a spur. That would be a great investment as well,” Ragozine said.
Ragozine said he favors more recreation at the site, but also would support commercial use with funding to be sought to help provide that.
“The property is in a good opportunity zone, which will make the city pursuing this $500,000 grant for the cleanup a viable candidate,” Ragozine said.
Keiran said the city is seeking requests for qualifications for environmental consulting services for the project. The deadline for companies to apply is 4 p.m. today, which will then be reviewed by a team who will then make a recommendation to the city.
“The city officials will ultimately decide which consultants they want for the project,” Keiran