MANSFIELD -- Bart Hamilton isn't sure what the Richland County Land Bank will find when it starts cleaning up the 13-acre "concrete jungle" formerly owned by Westinghouse.
But the chairman of the Land Bank board can't wait to get started on an estimated $5 million brownfield remediation and cleanup of the concrete slab and the decaying "A" building that has dominated the city's east skyline for the past three decades.
"It's hard to answer (what potential contaminants may be found) until we get rolling on this stuff," said Hamilton, also the county treasurer. "I am sure there will be some 'hotspots.' As we hit those, we will just have to work through them.
"I don't think we will find anything horrible, but we won't know until we get started," he said.
The Land Bank officially on Thursday accepted the donation of the concrete slab area from the Mansfield Business Park, LLC, which has owned the land since 1999.
The agency accepted the "A" building on Dec. 1 from Pamela Coffman, trustee of the Coffman Revocable Living Trust, which owned the building at 200 Fifth St. that occupies almost the entire 0.4-acre parcel that abuts the "concrete jungle"
The long-anticipated cleanup and potential redevelopment of the former Westinghouse sites is part of $7.7 million in projects for which the Land Bank has applied in the first round of funding, efforts that include the planned demolition of the former Ocie Hill Neighborhood Center.
Hamilton said in September that the state's two-year budget set aside $500 million for demolition and brownfield remediation.
Each of the state's 88 counties is guaranteed $1.5 million from that fund ($500,000 in demolition funds and $1 million in brownfield remediation dollars), leaving $368 million "up for grabs" for projects.
Entities such as the local Land Bank will have to come up with a 25-percent match for any projects after guaranteed funds are spent. Proof of those matching dollars must be submitted with each project application.
Richland County commissioners on Dec. 16 pledged up to $1 million in matching funds toward the cleanup. Mansfield City Council is expected to vote on a contribution to the effort in January.
Hamilton said he wasn't sure when the state would start to make decisions on what will likely be a flood of applications from around the state. Work approved must be completed by the end of June 2023.
"Lining up contractors and having all of this work done in the next year-and-a-half will be harder than coming up with the matches," Richland County Commissioner Tony Vero, a Land Bank board member, said earlier this month.
Land Bank manager Amy Hamrick, who will be tasked with completing applications for eight project applications approved Dec. 14, agreed it could be a daunting task.
"I just need to get our contractors lined up as quickly as possible (after project funding is approved)," she said at the time.