The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

May 10, 2013

Metal dug up at future site of Conneaut sports field needs study

CONNEAUT — School officials in Conneaut could know soon whether metal containers recently unearthed at the site of a future sports complex pose an environmental threat.

Results from an analysis to be conducted by a company specializing in such work may be available in two weeks, Kent Houston, Conneaut Area City Schools superintendent, said Thursday. Soil that encased the old containers is also being studied.

Several big, blue, trash bin-like boxes to hold the suspect soil sit on the property, once the home of the Cummins Canning Company. In the 1900s the business packaged locally-grown fruit and vegetables. The property is bordered by Maple and Reig avenues and Center and Madison streets.

The buried containers were found “a couple of days ago,” Houston said. Heavy equipment digging out the foundations of buildings that once stood at the site made the discovery, Houston said at a Thursday night at a meeting with members of Conneaut City Council. Debris to be tested is being placed in the boxes.

“It should have been a very simple thing,” Houston told council.

Cost of the excavation and analysis, not yet pinned down, will be borne by the district’s permanent improvement fund, Houston said Friday. It’s entirely conceivable the process will show the buried containers are completely harmless

The property, which sits opposite Conneaut High School football field on Maple Avenue  is the future home of a track/field facility, a component in a much larger sports complex envisioned for the area.

The Environmental Protection Agency is involved in the process, Houston said Thursday. Mike Settles, spokesman for the Ohio EPA in Columbus, said Friday he was not immediately aware of the work at the school site but would make inquiries.

At the end of 2008, Gerald and Mary Eighmy donated the property to the school district. The gift included a 25,000 square-foot commercial building and nearly eight acres of vacant land.

A few years later, a new committee — CARE for Kids — announced it would spearhead a fund-raising campaign that would make improvements to the football stadium and flank the field with a track/field facility and tennis courts.

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