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Great Lakes Article:

Riverfront projects get top ratings for cleanup
Toledo Blade

A local committee assigned to rate applications for a share of $40 million in state brownfields cleanup funds rates the Marina and Arena districts as the two highest priority projects from Lucas County.

Those two projects, along with one other, now go to the state Department of Development for a final ranking. The local group is seeking $3 million for each project.

If approved by the state this summer, the grants will help clear the way for the city to take ownership of the former Acme power plant property owned by Toledo Edison on the Maumee River.

The 125-acre Marina district site between the Martin Luther King, Jr., Bridge and the I-280 bridge is planned for an entertainment, residential, commercial, and business complex being developed by Columbus developer Frank Kass. The Arena district is included within that area.

The District 12 Integrating Committee met yesterday to assign points to three projects. Keith Earley, Lucas County engineer, chairs the committee.

The committee awarded 79 points each to the Marina and Arena districts out of a possible 102. It ranked the Arena District and the Marina District as its first and second priority projects.

"Looking at the criteria, I’d say they’re going to be very competitive," Mark Drennen, administrative deputy for the county engineer’s office, said.

He said no project could qualify for the full 102 points.

The third local project is the Stickney West Industrial Park project at 56 Tyler St. in Toledo, which received 78 points as the third priority. The city is seeking $525,000 for that project.

Jim Mettler, coordinator of the Arena District project for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, said he does not know how the rankings compare with 24 other projects from around the state. But he said he believes Toledo’s applications are among the most ambitious.

"We think we have very strong applications. It’s a good thing that the district integrating committee showed the same support for the project that the rest of the community has," Mr. Mettler said.

The Arena District is 54 acres including the site of the Toledo Sports Arena, the George Gradel Co. property, and some of the Toledo Edison property. The Marina District is 29.25 acres owned by Toledo Edison.

The rest of the acreage is not covered by the grant application.

The $400 million Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund was established after a statewide referendum in November, 2000. Half of the fund is dedicated to brownfields cleanup, with $40 million to be awarded annually for four years through a competitive process.

The environmental cleanup of the Marina and Arena district project is estimated at $15 million.

The contamination consists mainly of coal and fly ash pits.

Toledo Edison recently extended a deadline for the city to accept the former Acme power plant property until Sept. 30.

Mayor Jack Ford has asked city council for approval of a three-month, $45,000 contract with Tom Chema, president of Gateway Consultants Group, Inc., of Cleveland to do a feasibility study of the financing of the project.

Last week a downtown business group announced it had retained its own consultant to do a feasibility study and a site plan for a downtown arena.
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