By Bethany J. Royer
PIQUA — A graphic that depicts what the area behind the former municipal power plant on South Main Street may look like in the future was released earlier this week, showcasing a rip-rap along the banks, along with plantings, seeding and repaving of the trail.
Gary Huff, city manager, wrote on his blog (piquaohcm.wordpress.com) that the “work underway includes environmental mitigation and demolition of the bag houses, ash silo, flues, bucket elevators, and stacks. The removal of foundations, pump/screen houses, asphalt, and vegetation along the river are also part of this construction phase.”
As stated by Huff and many city leaders over the years, redevelopment along portions of the Great Miami River is a major goal, with the area around the power plant just one of many to be enhanced or rehabbed for recreation opportunities along the river.
Initial discussions for the project began in 2006-07 under the Plan It Piqua initiative which set five top priority sites, including the power plant. However, it wasn’t until March 2012, that a public hearing was held to discuss CORF (Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund) for the plant’s demolition with an application for funding sent to the Springfield Transportation Coordinating Committee.
The committee scores projects before sending them on to the Clean Ohio Council, which makes final determinations.
Development program manager Bill Lutz spoke on the application process, demolition and the future of the plant site at the time stating, “These are grant dollars provided from the Ohio Department of Development through the Clean Ohio program.” Noting the programs include agricultural easements and recreational trails projects, along with brownfield redevelopment projects such as the demolition and remediation of the power plant.
Lutz further explained that the city of Piqua has been very successful in receiving funds from the Clean Ohio fund in the past with $5 million granted since the program’s inception. The grants include $1.4 million for cleanup behind the power plant area that will see the removal of metal and concrete structures and asphalt, as stated in Huff’s blog post, work that began last month.
City leaders hope to have the initial demolition work on the east side of the plant completed by Memorial Day with the area to eventually be a waterfront park as depicted in the graphic. In the meantime, the city will continued to pursue grants to cover demolition and remediation of the power plant, which was built in the 1930s.
Funding is necessary to cover the proper removal of asbestos in the plant, most of which Lutz previously stated is in “pretty good shape. It will not be very difficult or costly to remove.” With an estimation that about 10 to 15 percent of the asbestos is loose, the more costly to remove.
Bethany J. Royer may be reached at 773-2721 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall