LIMA — Tucked between blighted industrial and commercial properties, abandoned gas stations are an additional obstacle in the region’s work towards rejuvenation, and the City of Lima is now offering a newly developed program to get help rid of them.
Known as the Lima Abandoned Gas Station Cleanup Program, or Lima AGS, the new program looks to help property owners access state grants to fund removal and cleanup of contaminated former gas tanks buried underground.
“These programs provide a prime opportunity for economic development and revitalization throughout the city,” Lima Chief of Staff Sharetta Smith said in a press release. “Cleaning up these sites also protects public health and the environment, increases job creation, adds local amenities and can generate new revenue for community stakeholders, including property owners, business owners and potential employees.”
Of prime focus for the overall Lima AGS program are six abandoned gas stations located within Lima’s downtown alone. Of the six, only two currently qualify for a Ohio Development Services Agency program that can provide up to $500,000 to pay for removal of the tanks.
The six abandoned gas stations within Lima’s downtown include 124 W. Lane St., 625 W. North St., 200 to 202 E. Market St., 519 N. Jackson St., 237 S. Union St. and 573 W. Spring St.
One of those properties, 237 S. Union, has already begun the remediation process. Lima City Council approved an ordinance during its July 1 meeting that would allow the city to work with O’Connor Investment Properties to apply and administer any funds granted by state agencies, and Smith said a second property, 573 W. Spring St., is slated for approval.
Countywide, the Bureau of Underground Storage Tank Regulations has identified 11 tanks that currently qualify for up to $500,000 in state funding. The City of Lima is inviting the property owners of these 11 tanks to work directly with the city to access such funds to remove the old tanks, which may have leaked in the past.
But removing those 11 tanks would be just a drop in the bucket when considering the number of inactive underground tanks in the county. BUSTR tracks 495 underground tanks — both inactive and active — throughout the county and the majority hold different licenses forbidding them from using state funds for removal. Under state law, however, those funds can be made available upon a property assessment determining that the current property owner is not responsible for any standing ground contamination, nor capable of paying for a tank’s removal.
Smith said the city is also asking to work with property owners on gaining the necessary classification qualifying them for removal funding. In addition to the $500,000 that could be granted for tank removal, an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency program offers $100,000 to pay for property assessment activities.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.