By MARGIE NETZEL - firstname.lastname@example.org
GENEVA — City council members expect a big check in the mail from the Clean Ohio Council — to the tune of $388,455.
The money will be used to clean up the contaminated soil around the former True Temper building on Water Street, Assistant City Manager Jennifer Brown said. The property will then be developed by the Arthur Louis Steel Company to expand its metal manufacturing facility by 24,000 square feet.
The ALS Geneva location will retain 12 employees and plans to add 10 more positions, Brown said.
The grant money for soil remediation is the third such round of state dollars in the cleanup efforts. Brown said the total project investment is $1.8 million.
In 2008, the city received money to evaluate the conditions at the property. Phase two of the project was a federal site assessment grant for a comprehensive evaluation. Soil borings and water testing were performed to determine the type and degree of contamination — a step needed to apply for the Clean Ohio money.
The True Temper property has a long and storied history in Geneva. The company operated an electroplating facility on the site from 1950 to 1980, using a complex system of underground piping for chemical processes. Rinse water from the plating processes was pumped underground from the facility into a settling pond. Overflow from the rinse-water settling pond flowed through an underground pipe to a concrete basin, which emptied into the True Temper ditch. From there, the water flowed north and then west through a series of ditches and culverts and was discharged into Cowles Creek, the Midwest Hazardous Substance Research Center reports.
Brown said the city is working to “encourage new investment” locally.
“These redevelopment efforts will allow the city of Geneva to expand its tax base, retain and create new job opportunities and remove any environmental contamination,” she said.
The steel fabrication company ALS specializes in structural and miscellaneous steel for industrial projects, providing steel to jobs in 40 states and 17 countries worldwide. With three locations, the company employs 67 people and is headquartered in Ashtabula.
Brown said increased business growth prompted the Geneva plant expansion on the 11 acres of adjacent, vacant land.
“The neighboring vacant 11 acres is the logical location to expand, except for the simple fact that the surrounding property had a legacy of environmental contamination,” she said.
Securing grant dollars for the project has been a team effort, Brown said.
“Many folks rallied together in order to find ways to ensure we wouldn’t lose a fine, homegrown business,” she said.
Matt Kanicki, vice president of ALS, said he appreciates the city’s commitment to the project.
“Without the hard work and commitment of the city, and Jennifer Brown in particular, this project would never have been possible. This investment demonstrates our commitment to our employees, the city of Geneva, Ashtabula County and it also represents what is possible when local government and businesses partner together,” he said.