By Wayne Allen
One of the main goals of the Southern Ohio Port Authority (SOPA) is to bring economic development to Scioto County and to become the primary economic organization in the county.
“American Electric Power notified us on Friday, that we (SOPA) are going to receive a local economic advancement program grant for $10,000. The first thing we’re going to use that on is for a brownfield inventory,” said Jason Kester, Executive Director of SOPA. “We know we have a lot of brownfield sites in and round Portsmouth and New Boston, we don’t know exactly what they are.”
Kester said part of this money will be used to hire an outside firm Hall and Associates.
“They are the firm that worked with the state to redevelop a lot of the casino sites that were brownfields. They come highly recommended and is a well respected firm,” Kester said.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a brownfield can be defined as, “real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties protects the environment, reduces blight, and takes development pressures off greenspaces and working lands.”
Kester said Hall and Associates will come to town to hold some community meetings and get impute.
“I’ve already sent them a list of the underground storage tanks in town and some sites the EPA has already identified,” Kester said.
He said Hall and Associates will start their work on Wednesday.
“The reason they are starting right away is, we hope to use the brownfield inventory to apply for a couple of larger area wide planing grants. You take the information found in the inventory, there are other grant programs through the EPA where you can start do some urban planing and you can have some funds to do some environmental studies,” Kester said.
Kester said the area of focus is around the Norfolk and Southern Rail Yard in the more industrial portion of the area.
“In the second part of this grant we are going to be working with the city of Portsmouth and New Boston on figuring out the age and capacity of infrastructure. We’re working with American Electric Power, water company in trying to figure out how much and what kind of capacities we have,” Kester said. “We are trying to figure out if we added an industrial user to the existing water line, would they be able to handle it.”
Kester said with is information, if a business wants to come to the area, it’s known what the age and capacities of the local infrastructure is.
Kester said SOPA was also the recent recipient of a $25,000 grant from Fluor B&W Portsmouth.
“That $25,000 is going to go into developing some engineering and site development work for the area between Wheelersburg and Hanging Rock. This focusing on due to the resources available,” Kester said.
He said part of the Fluor B&W funding will be used to upgrade the equipment in the SOPA office.
Kester said he has taken delivery of the city of Portsmouth’s donation to economic development, a 2014 all wheel drive Sports Utility Vehicle. The SUV is a 2014 GMC Terrain 4 Cylinder.
“We’ve put about 6,000 miles on my personal vehicle this year in SOPA related tasks. This week we’ve going to take the SOPA vehicle to Ironton for the grand opening of the port and Thursday and Friday I’ve got meetings in columbus,” Kester said.
For more information about the Southern Ohio Port Authority call 740-935-2738 or visit them on Facebook.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT