MANSFIELD — The Richland County Land Bank has nearly cleared another hurdle in the effort to revitalize the former Westinghouse property.
Legal ownership of the 13-acre concrete slab east of the former Westinghouse “A” building is finally in sight.
The land bank has been working to acquire the property since last year, but the parcel’s complicated history made it a challenge to determine who had the legal authority to sign off on the donation.
That person has finally been located.
“Because this is a 30-year vacant property, there had been different business variations that had owned the concrete portion of the Westinghouse site,” county commissioner and land bank board member Tony Vero said.
“The former owner just needs to sign one last document, get it notarized and then it’s completely under local control.”
Those documents were sent to Mansfield Business Park LLC, a Delaware Limited Liability Corporation, on Thursday.
The land bank accepted ownership of the neighboring property, the former Westinghouse “A” building, in December. Once the property transfer goes through, nearly all of the former Westinghouse properties will be under local control for the first time since the industrial giant closed its Mansfield operations in 1990.
“This would be something we’ve never had before, at least in the last 30 years,” Vero said. “We clean it up and if it’s okay, environmentally, then we control what happens at that site – we as a community.”
Land bank manager Amy Hamrick declined to predict when the documents would be signed and returned.
“It was my understanding it was Fed-Ex-ed to them today,” she said. “Who knows if the person who needs to sign it is in their office or on vacation – I have no way of knowing that.”
The property owner is expected to sign the documents donating the massive parcel to the Richland County Land Bank, completing the acquisition process.
Mansfield Business Park previously signed an agreement to donate the property, but another has to be signed due to a typo.
Mansfield Business Park has already allowed the land bank to access the site for testing, but the formal clean-up process can’t begin until legal ownership is transferred, Hamrick said.
The land bank has already begun soliciting bids for clean-up at both sites, and will likely vote to approve a bid during its Aug. 3 meeting. Bidding is open until July 29 at 9 a.m.
The state of Ohio is funding $4 million of the project, with the county and the city of Mansfield each agreeing to spend $500,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds toward the effort.
Moving forward, Vero said land bank officials have no way for sure of knowing what lies under the concrete of the former industrial site, but officials believe there was a gas station located on the property at one time. Evidence suggests there may have also been a dry cleaning facility.
“There’s still a lot of unknowns associated with the concrete portion of the project,” he said.
Hamrick predicted the site cleanup at the concrete slab and former “A” building likely won’t begin before mid-September.
“By the time we award the contract, the demo contractor gets it on the schedule, they show up and start removing concrete so they can test it underneath and so on and so forth – it’s going to be a long process,” she said.