Westinghouse

The Richland County Land Bank on Friday is expected to advertise for bids to demolish and remediate former Westinghouse properties on Mansfield's east side. (Richland Source file photo)

MANSFIELD -- Contractors interested in helping rid Mansfield of a 30-year eyesore should check with the Richland County Land Bank on Friday.

That's when Land Bank manager Amy Hamrick will issue bid specifications for the estimated $5 million project to demolish and clean up former Westinghouse properties on the city's east side.

That advertisement is dependent upon Richland County commissioners on Thursday officially approving their $500,000 contribution toward the project to demolish the decaying "A" building that has largely sat idle at 200 E. Fifth St. since Westinghouse closed local operations in 1990.

The project also includes the cleanup of the 13-acre "concrete slab" that adjoins the building's property to the east.

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.

Hamrick said the deadline for contractors to submit bids is July 29 at 9 a.m. with a bid opening at that time.

Hamrick said she would take bids to the Land Bank board on Aug. 3.

"With board approval, we would expect to have contractors ready to (begin) in 30 days if not sooner, once contracts are signed," Hamrick said.

That could mean the work may begin almost one year to the date that the Land Bank initiated the Westinghouse effort.

Hamrick's comments came during a special Land Bank board meeting Tuesday afternoon, during which the board approved documents related to the project.

Those documents included a letter explaining why the Land Bank and county commissioners chose to use American Rescue Plan Act funds to pay for the Westinghouse project.

Richland County Administrator Andrew Keller said the letter helps to document why the county chose to spend its ARPA dollars on the project and how it meets federal guidelines of the expenditure.

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He said the letter will be maintained in the Land Bank and commissioners' files in the event of a U.S. Treasury Dept. audit of ARPA funds.

Gov. Mike DeWine came to the site April 26 to announce the state funds, that will come from the $500 million set aside in the state's biennial budget for demolition and brownfield remediation.

Each of the state's 88 counties, as part of the two-year state budget approved this year, are guaranteed $500,000 in demolition funds and $1 million in brownfield remediation dollars.

Richland County is putting its $1 million toward the Westinghouse project and DeWine's announcement was for another $3 million on top of that.

The letter approved Tuesday explains the property is in qualified census tract that has a population of 2,2249 with a median household income of $18,693.

It states:

"The Westinghouse Company, once a major manufacturer employer in Mansfield, ceased operations in 1991. Since that time, much of the Westinghouse property has fallen into significant disrepair, creating a number of worsening challenges for the surrounding neighborhood. This site is located entirely within a QCT that was disproportionately impacted by the negative health and economic impacts of COVID-19.

The letter states that living near such properties "correlates" with worse physical health and mental health outcomes.

"Abandoned industrial properties are associated with higher rates of crime, and such properties pose both an environmental hazard and a barrier to economic recovery. The vacant industrial Westinghouse A building is in such a state of significant disrepair that it unnecessarily creates a public health and safety hazard and suppresses property values for the property owners and 2,249 residents, already disproportionately impacted by poverty, living in this QCT," the letter states.

According to the letter, the project will not reduce affordable housing stock in this neighborhood as the Westinghouse A building is old industrial and otherwise uninhabitable.

The letter also says that multiple planning partners have identified the Westinghouse neighborhood for strategic revitalization through demolition, remediation and greening or other improvements.

"Downtown Mansfield, Inc. is a non-profit membership organization that has been active for over two decades, and the organization has specifically identified the Westinghouse neighborhood as a targeted area of revitalization.

"The Mansfield Rising Downtown Investment Plan has also recognized the Westinghouse property as a site for future community improvements, which begins with demolition of the old industrial structures," the letter says.

Chuck Hahn, Cleveland Financial Group, invests in this independent reporting through a Newsroom Partnership.

City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"