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Published: Thursday, 6/30/2011

$4.5M grants target cleanup of old Jeep site

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A state agency has chosen the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority for two grants totaling just under $4.5 million to clean up portions of the former Jeep factory site north of Central Avenue in central Toledo.

The larger of the two grants from the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund -- $2,999,869 -- will be used for pollution remediation and demolition of old building foundations on part of the 111-acre property, where State Paper and Metal Co. Inc. plans to expand its recycling business.

The firm will add a 45,000 square-foot building, according to the Ohio Department of Development.

A $1,499,990 grant will target parts of the former Jeep plant along the Ottawa River that are unsuited for redevelopment and are to be reused as an "urban waterfront park" with trails and a riverfront walk, plus solar-panel arrays for generating electricity.

That money will be used to clean up contaminated soil and remove parking lots and subsurface structures left behind when factory buildings were torn down.

Port officials had cited their grant application to clean up the park area in February when the board of directors authorized staff to award a contract for preliminary clean-up of trichloroethylene, an industrial solvent used at the Jeep plant's aluminum foundry to clean parts.

Matt Sapara, the port authority's director of operations and property development, said the agency only later became eligible for the larger grant once State Paper and Metal expressed an interest in the site adjoining its current building.

The nearly $3 million grant came from the Clean Ohio fund dedicated to projects involving "known end-users," he said.

"We're ecstatic" about being chosen for the grants, Mr. Sapara said. "We are glad the Clean Ohio Council is confident in us and our plans to clean up the property for redevelopment."

The site's visibility and access to I-75 may also have helped the port authority secure the funds, he said, along with access to railroad tracks on its eastern edge.

The port authority bought the former assembly complex at 1000 Jeep Pkwy. from a Chrysler Corp. liquidation company in October for $95,000.

A port authority consultant created a redevelopment plan envisioning a mix of industrial buildings and parkland.

Buildings would line the railroad tracks while the riverfront park would include interpretive signs explaining the site's history.

The trichloroethylene cleanup, for which the port authority used $340,000 in federal hazardous-materials funds it received from Toledo, was completed late last month, Mr. Sapara said.

The port also received a $1.3 million federal Department of Housing and Urban Development grant for the Jeep site cleanup.

The property development director said he expects State Paper and Metal's project to need between 10 and 15 acres of the property, adding that there also has been significant interest in the balance of the site.



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