EPA to clean up Firestone property

Posted: Friday, February 12, 2016

By: The Courier-Times | Reporter: Kevin Green

EPA to clean up Firestone property
Kevin L. Green / C-T photo
The Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to clean up the surface rubble at the former Firestone property on South 25th Street. New Castle Mayor Greg York said he expects the work involved to begin when the weather warms up.

New Castle Mayor Greg York shared what he described as good news Thursday at the Henry County Economic Development Corporation board meeting.

“We’re excited to announce that the city RDC (redevelopment commission) has signed an agreement with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) for the immediate clean up of the 25th Street Firestone property,” York said. “The EPA has said they will be taking the lead on getting that site cleaned up and the city has agreed to assist them in any way that we can. We feel like this is the fastest way we can get that area cleaned up.”

York said this is especially good news for the residents who live near the property at 1125 S. 25th Street, noting it’s been an eyesore and a nuisance for several years.

“This is very welcome news,” he said. “To get that cleaned up is exciting, and the neighbors who live over there have got to be excited that it’s going to be cleaned up.”

Former buildings on the property, which were knocked down and reduced to large piles of rubble about three years ago, had been the location of frequent fires. It also was a frequent target for vandals and thieves interested in stealing scrap metal.

York said it’s taken a lot of work to get to the point that at least some clean up is possible.

“There have been hours upon hours spent trying to get this worked out,” he said. “The clean up won’t be done on our nickel, the EPA will be taking care of the expense, but we are continuing to take bore samples and try to determine what might be underground. I want to caution everyone that just because the top gets cleaned off, that doesn’t mean the issue goes away.”

The city’s legal counsel continues to investigate the possibility of holding Firestone and/or other former tenants responsible for any contamination that might exist underground, York added.

New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Corey Murphy was clearly pleased with the news.

“It’s a great partnership,” Murphy said regarding the agreement between the city and EPA. “The clean up is focused on the rubble, above ground. We’re going to continue to assess sub-surface, but to have them come in and take care of that is certainly a step in the right direction.”

Murphy also cited the value of the property when it is cleaned up and given a green light for future development.

“It’s important from a community and neighborhood standpoint first and foremost,” he said. “Secondly, that is a longtime heavy industrial site with good infrastructure and rail access. Getting it cleaned up improves the likelihood that somebody could build there.”

The 9.3 acres involved has been home to many businesses over the years. Murphy pointed out the site is adjacent to 30 acres already owned by Henry County Redevelopment Commission, all of which is served by a rail line and zoned for heavy industrial use.

It’s not known when the EPA’s clean up of the site will start, but the mayor said he anticipates work will begin within the next couple of months. He estimated the EPA’s involvement will save the city a minimum of $500,000.