Ottawa, Lima awarded funds for blighted industrial sites

OTTAWA — It has been 20 years, but some resolution is finally coming to what will happen with what was once the LG Phillips Display plant in Ottawa, thanks to more than $2.5 million in grant funds through the Ohio Brownfield Remediation Program.

“We applied for this grant Jan. 31, 2022, and that was almost exactly 20 years since the last time it was a functioning facility,” Putnam County Community Improvement Corporation Director of Economic Development Amy Sealts said. “I think the last functioning date was Jan. 12, 2002.”

The site of the Phillips plant on the 700 block of North Pratt Street had been in use since 1947, according to a release from Gov. Mike DeWine’s office outlining the grant awards. However, once the plant closed in 2002, it sat vacant and deteriorating.

Because the grant was over $1 million, a 25 percent local match was required to secure the funds, meaning that a total of $3.09 million in project funds will come with a local investment of about $500,000, Sealts said. The grant will help fund asbestos abatement as well as the demolition of some of the buildings to help make the property more appealing for potential investment.

“Five sections of that property will be demolished,” Sealts said. “There will be cleanup and remediation on four buildings. There’s a plan in there to do universal waste remediation, which is things like pesticides, lamps that contain mercury, discarded paint, aerosol containers and things that are residual to the building and still left.”

Sealts said that the funds will help cover soil testing to find and remove contaminated soil from the property, as well as replacing a water and a sewer line on the southern part of the property that was known to contain contaminants.

Another Allen County project was awarded brownfield grant funding, as well. The site of the former Edco Tool and Supply on the 1100 block of East Kibby Street, as well as the vacant site next door where the former Davidson Enamel factory once stood, will be cleared out thanks to $860,500 in cleanup and remediation funds.

“It’s a privilege for us to work with the Ohio Department of Development because without that assistance, it would be very difficult to clean up that property,” Allen Economic Development Group President and CEO David Stratton said.

Some of the buildings were torn down in 2017, but the concrete base and two buildings still remained. Demolishing the two remaining structures on the site, as well as removing all of the concrete on the plant site and disposing of lead-contaminated soil and groundwater will create an 11-acre site with rail access close to Interstate 75 that Stratton hopes will become a prime site for investment.

“This will clean up a blight on an entranceway on Kibby Street into the city of Lima, and so we’re excited about that,” Stratton said. “We’ve had a number of interested parties that are looking at this property, but we needed to get it cleaned up first. Nobody’s going to buy it and then put a million dollars into cleanup.”

Because the projects will have to go through a bidding process, Sealts did not have a timetable for when this cleanup would take place. Stratton also said the Kibby Street project will have to go out for bid, but he is optimistic that, if all goes well, the project could begin as soon as this fall.