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Bellaire demolition work scheduled

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — There was some good news for the village of Bellaire from the Belmont County Land Reutilization Corp. this week.

Some structures long in need of demolition will soon be taken down by the organization, commonly called the land bank, and several additional structures are also on the schedule.

There were two bid openings for houses in Bellaire. The land bank accepted a bid from DTR Associates for the one at 3720 Trumbull St. DTR Associates and Raze International were the bidders. The land bank also accepted a bid from Raze for the demolition of 1850 Guernsey St., the site of a former Bellaire high school, the front of which has fallen in.

Kathy Kelich, chairwoman of the land bank and Belmont County treasurer, said Raze bid $58,500 to demolish the former school.

“That’s going to be a ‘hot demo,'” she said. “The building was too dangerous for them to do an asbestos evaluation. When that is the case, we move it to a hot demo so that they treat all of the material as though it has asbestos in it and they take it to an Ohio (Environmental Protection Agency)-approved landfill site.

“It makes it quite a bit costlier, but it keeps all the hazardous material in an approved site so that it actually makes it better for the environment,” she said.

Kelich added that work will begin this week and could take five days to complete.

Regarding the Trumbull Street property, DTR bid $14,460 compared to Raze’s bid of $15,600. Work will begin in about two weeks and take about three days.

“On Guernsey Street because we have an emergency, we are able to start (more quickly). And because it’s a hot demo, otherwise we have to have a 10-day notification with the Ohio EPA when we start a demo,” Kelich said.

“It’s going to get torn down real soon,” Pultney Township Trustee Frank Shaffer said of the Trumbull Street property.

He commended the land bank as well as Bellaire Police Chief Dick Flanagan, who also works as code enforcement officer, for aggressively pursuing the projects.

“That particular property recently had some issues from a storm, debris falling into the street, things like that,” Shaffer said. “The land bank expedited that … case, they got one bidder on it.”

The sole bidder was Raze International, based in Shadyside.

“That’s a major one because it’s an unsafe structure and needs to come down, and if it wasn’t for Officer Flanagan’s work in that and the land bank’s … This one really needed done. It was a pretty good boost for the village of Bellaire,” Shaffer said. “Those are two major projects for the village of Bellaire to help unify their situation down there.”

“Obviously we’re going to proceed to taking down as many houses and building as we can. Guernsey Street is precisely why the land bank exists – to take care of dilapidated structures and try to take them back to a revitalized parcel where we’re collecting tax dollars. We’re just going to continue to do that work as long as there’s money in the system to do it,” Kelich said. “These projects were slated to be dealt with this year anyway.”

Kelich added that every county in the state has received a grant of $500,000 through the Ohio Department of Development for demolition and revitalization.

“When we ask for an asbestos evaluation, which we have to do on every home or every building, the labs are backed up as well as the vendors, so we have to wait for them to give us their analysis back before we can start an abatement or even proceed to a hot demo. That has been a little bit more time constraining for us because we are on hold.

“We do look forward to doing another 10 houses, we’re hoping before the end of the year,” she said. “We’d like to do more, but the lab issue.”

In addition, American Electric Power will be acquiring and demolishing some more dilapidated structures.

“A number of properties on Central Avenue coming into Bellaire that’s been an eyesore for a number of years – the land bank has agreed to actually turn that property over to AEP, and AEP supposedly will tear down that property and clean it up because they need an easement through there anyway,” Shaffer said, adding AEP will take down at least three structures. “Those properties on Central Avenue were presented about a year after the land bank started, and they’re finally getting torn down. The other ones bid on have been an issue for the village for a number of years.”

“We have to transfer some of those properties into the land bank name, then transfer them to AEP. That, of course, will take some time, so AEP probably won’t acquire those properties for at least a few weeks. And then I’m not sure what their timeline is as far as their demolitions and construction areas, but they are eager to get started,” Kelich said. “I believe that they’re building another substation and these are right-of-ways that they needed.”

AEP representatives responded to an email and said a statement would be forthcoming about the intent and schedule for the project.

“Bellaire struck a real home run today. They got five properties that they’re going to get cleaned up, that’s a plus,” Shaffer said.

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