Monroe County land bank secures more than $9 million in funding

Photo Provided The former Clarington school closed in 1989. The Monroe County land bank has secured funds to demolish the school, making way for redevelopment.

WOODSFIELD — The Monroe County Land Reutilization Corp., also known as the county land bank, was recently awarded $9,044,000 in funding to remove multiple dilapidated structures including the former Beallsville and Clarington schools.

Taylor Abbott, county treasurer and chairman of the county land bank, said he received an email earlier this week alerting him that they had secured the funds through the Ohio Department of Development’s Ohio Brownfield Remediation Program, a program designed to provide money to communities to assist in efforts to clean up and prepare hazardous sites for redevelopment.

“Our goal is to create opportunities and make a positive difference in the lives of Ohioans,” Gov. Mike DeWine stated in a release regarding $88 million being awarded for 123 projects in the state. “Removing these eyesores and cleaning up blighted properties will help make way for new and exciting opportunities in our state.”

Abbott said they were elated with the discovery they had received the full amount requested.

He noted that the county land bank secured 10% of the funding share allotted in the state and was the second-highest amount awarded.

“Our board and the Monroe County Port Authority are grateful to the state for recognizing the projects that we have here and the need for them to be demolished. It’s been a group effort from start to finish. Our land bank board, the port authority, Long Ridge Energy, Beallsville 1st and Goal Club — everybody has worked hard the past year to get this project across the finish line,” he said.

“We couldn’t be more happy about it. The progress being made here in the county toward demolishing blighted structures is incredible and this year alone, we’ve already received $9.5 million toward cleaning up properties in the county, and we’re set to receive more in the coming year so we can continue doing what we’re doing now.”

The funds will provide abatement of asbestos and demolition for three large, long-awaited projects:

∫ Former Beallsville school, located at 52682 Ohio Ave., was awarded $615,300 for cleanup and remediation. The building, which is now owned by the Beallsville 1st and Goal Club, was constructed in the 1920s, operating as a school until its closing in 2011. The project includes remediation including abatement of asbestos, demolition of the building, capping of utilities, and erosion control and restoration. Following cleanup efforts, redevelopment of the site will be focused on community-based uses, such as outdoor recreational use or a multi-purpose building;

∫ Former Clarington school, located at 205 Church St., was awarded $341,250 for cleanup and remediation. The building, dating back to 1925, was utilized as a public school until it closed in the 1980s. The Monroe County Port Authority acquired the property in 2020. The project includes asbestos abatement, demolition, removal of materials and backfill on the site. After the work is complete, the port authority plans to market the site for redevelopment;

∫ The sub-surface demo at Long Ridge Energy Terminal project was awarded $8,087,625 for cleanup and remediation. The property operated as a smelting facility for Ormet Aluminum until operations ceased in 2013. The project includes the demolition of current structures and removal of underground foundations and utilities. After remediation, the property will be redeveloped as a multi-tenant industrial site including a first-of-its-kind power plant blending hydrogen with natural gas as feedstock.

Abbott said both schools are in poor, dilapidated condition. The former Clarington school building has incurred a number of illegal activities over the years. He said there have been instances of vandalism, theft and drug activity.

“It’s an eyesore to the residents there and a concern to many of them. That was our goal to help eliminate that because it does sit in the middle of a residential neighborhood which we call ‘School House Hill,'” he said.

Abbott said both former schools have environmental issues such as asbestos, lead paint, leaching into the ground and more.

“This money will go a long way toward cleaning up these two communities and getting rid of what are now eyesores, even though at one time they were the centerpiece and focus of the towns. Time moves on and if these buildings are not being used, they’re not being heated and cooled properly, everything starts to fall apart and that’s what’s happened here,” he said.

Abbott said Long Ridge Energy provided a 25% match, as required by the state, in order to secure the funds. Any public or private companies were able to apply.

Raze International of Shadyside has been awarded the contract for all three of the county projects. Abbott said they plan to meet with the company next month to discuss the timeline for the projects. The first step will be to remove any environmental hazards then on to the demolition phase.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *


Starting at $4.73/week.

Subscribe Today