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Published: Tuesday, 5/19/2009

Rossford-Toledo tie is sought on plans for casino

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Rossford City Council will ask Toledo to be part of redevelopment plans for a Maumee River property being proposed for a casino as well as request that state environmental officials ensure the site was properly cleaned.

But unless Rossford officials have evidence the former Libbey-Owens-Ford Co. site bordering the Wood County city was not cleaned up enough to meet standards for redevelopment, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency will not inspect it, agency spokesman Dina Pierce said last week.

The Ohio EPA in March issued a "covenant not to sue" to the 44-acre property's owner, River Road Redevelopment LLC of Middletown, which cleaned up the site through a voluntary program administered by the agency. Such a covenant relieves current owners from liability over past pollution.

The East Toledo site was not inspected before the covenant was issued because Ohio EPA officials did not suspect there was a problem and it was not among the about 25 percent randomly selected, Ms. Pierce said. The agency has limited resources, so it cannot do inspections on request from outside parties without good reason, she said.

"We're sensitive to Rossford's concerns, however, at this point, we're not likely to do an audit," Ms. Pierce said last week.

Rossford officials and residents have expressed concerns about the property since Penn National Gaming, owner of Toledo's Raceway Park, and others proposed casinos on the East Toledo land as well as in Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati.

Penn National and other casino developers want to ask Ohioans to vote Nov. 3 on whether to amend the Ohio Constitution to allow Las Vegas-style casinos on the four sites. Rossford has land in the Crossroads of America district that could be developed for a casino, but it is not part of the proposal.

Last week, Rossford City Council passed a resolution requesting Ohio EPA do an audit and that Toledo give the Wood County city the opportunity to review and comment on any revisions to the property's redevelopment plan. Rossford wants its comments to be considered in Toledo's approval process.

In 2003, Rossford City Council passed a resolution supporting Toledo's plan to clean up the site and use it for commercial and residential purposes, including public walking trails along the river. Toledo had applied for $3 million in state funding to clean up and redevelop the property.

Councilman Chuck Duricek, Jr., is among Rossford residents and officials who has questioned whether the site's proposed redevelopment can be changed to a more intense usage, if it received proper environmental clean up, and if it is large enough for a casino.



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