The village of Greenfield and city manager Todd Wilkin made a public records request to the Highland County Land Reutilization Corporation (land bank) via email on Aug. 8 and a written request for the same request on Aug. 11, both focusing on Brownfield Grant money for the Elliott Hotel in Greenfield, according to Mackenzie Edison, the land bank coordinator, at Thursday’s meeting of the land bank.
In the email, Wilkin stated the village of Greenfield stopped demolition on the hotel because of land bank inquiries to use the Brownfield Grant to help with its demolition and remediation.
He stated that when the first awards were made public “the village of Greenfield was confused as to why Elliott (Hotel) only received $19,718.00. The village had obtained quotes of around $50,000.00 to raze the building. TetraTech contacted me to do a walk-through of the property, at which point I learned the grant was only to test the materials and not to demo the building.”
Wilkin said that the village was concerned that the Elliott Hotel project wasn’t submitted for demolition dollars as was previously agreed.
Due to those factors, Wilkin and the village requested copies of all applications submitted by the land bank to the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD) for demolition funds for the Brownfield Grant for the Elliott Hotel.
Edison said that the land bank responded to the request via both email and mail on Monday.
In other Brownfield Grant news, Edison said the land bank received its unique entity ID, which is used to receive funds for the Brownfield Grant project, allowing the land bank to request reimbursement for round one funding for all of its projects, including the Rocky Fork Truck Stop, Elliott Hotel and East Monroe Mill.
Also concerning the Brownfield Grant, Edison said that round two funding still hasn’t been awarded. She said she reached out to the ODOD to ascertain when that would happen. Edison said the organization’s response was that the round two applications were currently under review and that there was another period of time ODOD was required to have to allow applicants to fix any issues with their projects. She also said ODOD told her that was why they couldn’t give a time frame, due to it depending on the applicants and reviewers working together to complete the reviews.
In other news, the land bank moved to do asbestos testing itself for the properties in the Building Demolition and Site Revitalization Grant program.
Edison said contractors for the grant, when picking up the new bid packets, had concerns about the asbestos testing. She said the contractors wondered how they would bid the properties out if they didn’t know if the structure had asbestos.
Jeff Duncan, Highland County Board of Commissioners president and a member of the land bank board, said it might be more streamlined for the land bank to do the asbestos testing themselves rather than relying on each contractor to do it individually. He said that’s because the contractor would have to pay somebody to do the asbestos testing even if they don’t know if they’re going to get the bid.
Edison said the wording on the current bid packets would need to be changed to reflect the asbestos testing being moved to the land bank’s purview. She said that nobody has currently submitted a bid, but people have picked up bid packets. She said she would notify them about the new wording and also change the wording on the bid packets so any new people picking up packets would see the change.
Also concerning the Building Demolition and Site Revitalization Grant, Edison said the land bank did need to rebid the project because of previous changes in wording and also had to remove seven properties from the list because the land bank doesn’t have Memorandums of Understanding from those properties.
She said the new bid packets are currently available and are due on Aug. 26 at 4 p.m. at The Scott House. The bids will be opened at a special land bank meeting on Monday, Aug. 29 at 10 a.m. However, due to the asbestos testing wording change, Lauren Walker, the city of Hillsboro’s representative on the land bank, said that date might need to be extended for the land bank to do the testing.
In other news, Duncan said the land bank was currently being audited by the state. Julie Bolender, Highland County economic development director, said the land bank was able to send over everything the state needed. She said the files the state needed were copies of canceled checks from 2021 and suggested that, in the future, the land bank request copies of those canceled checks from the bank.
Edison said that in the future the land bank will need to check with the map office when getting surveys done in transition before they acquire a property and it is transferred to the final owner. She said that not every property needs to go through the process, but if it has a red mark on its map, then it will need a survey. Due to that, she said that any time the land bank looks at a property it will also need to check with the map office to see if it needs a survey.
Edison said that concerning a Leesburg property by the water tower discussed at last month’s land bank meeting, she researched the property and decided that a side lot option would be best for the proposal. She said moving forward Leesburg would deed the property, because it can’t sell it, to the land bank, which will then send a formal letter to the surrounding property owners. Edison also said that would give them an option to bid on the property, with the highest bidder winning the property.
Edison said she met with the Clinton County land bank’s assistant director to discuss their processes on acquiring property and other aspects of their practices, saying that it went “really well.”
Reach Jacob Clary at 937-402-2570.