MANSFIELD -- The Richland County Land Bank celebrated Wednesday upon receiving its first environmental cleanup grant.
"It's really exciting," said Amy Hamrick, manager of the Land Bank. "It's our first environmental cleanup and we got it our first shot. It was very competitive."
Hamrick said the United States Environmental Protection Agency's grant is for $411,000 in Brownfield Cleanup monies. It will be used on Swan Cleaners, a dry cleaners that went out of business in 2014. Hamrick said the building, at 165 Park Avenue West, has been abandoned ever since.
"It means a lot," she said. "Taking a property smack dab in the middle of Imagination District and to get to clean that up ... No one is going to purchase a contaminated site, not knowing what is there."
Hamrick added dry cleaners are more of an environmental risk than gas station properties.
"Gas stations have gas tanks in the ground, but dry cleaners could have poured chemicals down drains or even the back door."
The cleanup will begin shortly after the Land Bank receives money around the end of October, Hamrick said. She believes the project will help the image of the imagination district.
"With the work being done by the Renaissance Theatre and Little Children's Buckeye Museum, leaving a blighted building could only bring it all down (aesthetically)."
The cleanup funds are for activities associated with the remediation of the former commercial dry cleaners.
"This site is integral to the expansion of and revitalization of Downtown Mansfield and The Imagination District," the Land Bank noted in a press release detailing the specifics of the grant. "Land Bank would like to thank Ohio EPA and Mannik and Smith Group for the part each of them played in helping us get this grant."