The Guernsey County Land Bank on Wednesday discussed potential properties to submit for financing under the Brownfields Remediation and Building Demolition and Site Revitalization programs offered by the Ohio Department of Development.
“We need to identify properties for the brownfields remediation program and we would like to have 10 to 15 properties for the building demolition and site revitalization program,” said Jim Caldwell, director of the land bank and treasurer of the county of Guernsey. “The more properties we have in the pipeline, the more likely we are to get grants.”
Cambridge Mayor Tom Orr moved a motion seconded by Commissioner Jack Marlin for the land bank to apply for both grant schemes.
The deadline for the brownfields remediation program is January 30, while the deadline for the building demolition and site revitalization program is February 28.
Byesville Mayor Jay Jackson and Guernsey County Community Development Corporation Director Ron Gombeda have been invited to submit potential properties for both schemes. while Orr recommended that the council canvass township trustees for potential candidates for the demolition program.
Commissioner Dave Wilson said he and fellow commissioners Skip Gardner and Marlin would coordinate contact with county administrators.
Some of the properties proposed for demolition at the meeting include a fire-damaged building on North Fifth Street in Cambridge, a building on the corner of Spruce and Second streets in Byesville and two properties in Cumberland.
If approved, the Brownfields Remediation and Building Demolition and Site Revitalization programs offer up to $1 million and $500,000, respectively, in funding for each county.
The Brownfields Remediation Program was created to provide grants to assist in the remediation of hazardous substances or petroleum in an industrial, commercial, or institutional property in the county.
Nearly $350 million in funds are available through the Ohio Department of Development for grants, with $1 million set aside for each county in the state.
The building demolition and site revitalization program included in Replacement Bill 110 provides $150 million with a reserve of $500,000 per county.
Reserved funds not used in a calendar year from the July 1, 2021 allocation date will become available for further grants through the state.
In other business, council also approved to move forward with a contract to purchase a vacant home at 202 Church St. in Senecaville. The sale of the property to the highest bidder was cleared by council in November 2021.
Treasurer Kim Conrath reported that two offers – $5,000 and $3,600 – had been received by the land bank. The buyer will get a Zanesville-based title company to complete the necessary paperwork for the sale, which is expected to take place within the next 30-60 days.
Council members approved a motion to request ownership of several properties in the Ohio state city for sale to potential buyers.
An adjacent owner on South 10th Street bid $3,000 for land with a garage and resident owners of property on Old Byesville Road and Cambridge Street bid $3,000 for two adjacent vacant lots.
According to Orr, an East Cambridge resident has also expressed interest in buying a vacant residence on Broad Street. No monetary offer was made for the property.
Orr also discussed an investigation of three vacant lots at the intersection of Clark Street and Beatty Avenue by people interested in converting the property into a park that would be maintained by the city.
“They would like to buy the property and plant trees and other things to make it a park before returning it to the city if the city agrees to maintain it,” Orr said. “The answer to this (maintenance) would be yes.”
The council approved the opening of negotiations with the potential buyer, the mayor being appointed as the representative of the land reserve to lead the negotiations.
The current asking price for the lots is $50,000.
Miscellaneous items discussed at the meeting included:
- Caldwell praised Gombeda for the CDC’s cleanup efforts at a property on North Fifth Street in Cambridge. Gombeda informed the council that he planned to build a house on the land in the future after meeting with town officials to help resolve local housing issues.
- Council members agreed to follow up with Pleasant City officials to confirm that they will take possession of vacant land in the village once a historical marker required by the Ohio Historical Connection is erected later this year. The land bank will apply for a grant in May to fund the marker recognizing the former location of the Knights of Pythias.
- Jennifer Zaayer of the Guernsey County Attorney’s Office will review the Land Reserve Articles of Association to determine whether the clerk must be an employee of the city, county or other entity to hold the position.
- The current land reserve bank balance is $37,657.19.
- Orr discussed improvements to a Wall Avenue property that was previously owned by the land bank. “It plants a seed of hope,” the mayor said.
- Members discussed the possibility of creating a web page to display properties that are for sale by the land reserve. It will be discussed again at the next meeting.
The land bank will then meet at 11 a.m. on Wednesday February 25 in the EOC conference room at the Guernsey County Administration Building, 627 Wheeling Ave. in Cambridge.