Land Bank pushes for brownfield funding


By Kyle Shaner - kshaner@sidneydailynews.com



SIDNEY – Money for cleaning up brownfield sites hasn’t been secured, but lawmakers seem to have noticed a push for funding from the Shelby County Land Reutilization Corp. and other groups.

During Tuesday’s Land Bank meeting, Director Doug Ahlers said he’s been in contact with the Ohio Land Bank Association and the Western Reserve Land Conservancy about securing funding to clean up brownfield land, which is previously developed land that is not in use and might be contaminated.

Among the sites the Shelby County Land Bank would like to see cleaned up is the former Wagner foundry in Sidney.

Jim Rokakis, the senior adviser for land banks for the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, told Ahlers that he’s had conversations with Senate President Matt Huffman and Rep. Bob Cupp.

“He was real excited,” Ahlers said of his conversation with Rokakis. “He talked to Matt Huffman, and he said, ‘I was just in Sidney and talked to some people in Sidney. In fact, I met your Land Bank director over there.’ And then he ran into Bob Cupp, and he said, ‘Gee, I talked to the Lima Land Bank people.’”

While no commitments have been made, Ahlers was encouraged that state lawmakers have noticed the calls to address brownfield properties.

“I don’t know what it will do, but they know Sidney exists, they know smaller cities need money,” Ahlers said.

“The old saying is the squeaky wheel gets the grease,” Commissioner Bob Guillozet said.

Also during the monthly meeting, Ahlers reported the property at 212 Sophia Ave. in Sidney that was sold through a sealed bid will be renovated and probably will be sold in approximately one year.

The Land Bank has acquired 93 properties, 77 of which have been demolished and 16 of which have been sold.

The Land Bank has properties in foreclosure including a property owned by John Deeter at 216 E. Main St. in Port Jefferson, a property owned by Billy Schloss at 304 High St. in Port Jefferson and a property owned by Sherry VanFleet at 826 N. Main Ave. in Sidney.

Treasurer John Coffield reported the Land Bank has $545,412.41 in its checking account. It had $7,002 in revenue for the past month, from the sale of the property on Sophia Avenue, and had $4,447.36 in expenses.

Ahlers also said he’s negotiating the donation of a property to the Land Bank.

An executive session was held in regards to donations to the Land Bank. No action was taken.

The Land Bank’s next meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. June 15 in the Shelby County Annex.

By Kyle Shaner

kshaner@sidneydailynews.com

Reach this writer at kshaner@sidneydailynews.com or 937-538-4824.

Reach this writer at kshaner@sidneydailynews.com or 937-538-4824.