City may support study of old Kardex site

Marietta’s City Council on Thursday heard the first reading of a resolution supporting an application by the Southeast Ohio Port Authority for funds to conduct a Phase II Environmental Assessment of the former Sperry Remington/Kardex Systems facility at 900 Greene St.

The 11.5-acre former industrial site, currently owned by local businessman John Lehman under Two Rivers Development and Promanco Inc., has been used for the last couple of years as a storage facility for tons of sand used in the horizontal hydraulic fracturing shale gas extraction industry.

During Thursday’s council meeting, Southeast Ohio Port Authority executive director Terri Tamburini said the authority would like to apply for the environmental study funds through the Clean Ohio Assistance Program to help determine whether the property could be redeveloped for multiple uses.

“This will give (the owners) an indication of whether to proceed with a rather comprehensive redevelopment of that area with a potential investment of $14.5 million for variable uses,” Tamburini said.

He said the development could include a mix of commercial, residential and recreational purposes, but added that the owner had not specified what those uses might be at this time.

Tamburini said the environmental assessment would be critical toward determining how the property could be used and whether the redevelopment is economically feasible.

He said a public meeting on the proposed environmental assessment will be scheduled late this month.

Councilman Michael Mullen, I-at large, said the proposed redevelopment could be good news for the Norwood district.

“Even though it’s very preliminary at this point, it’s exciting to consider the highest and best use of that site,” he said. “I’m sure it’s a long way before we could get to a $14.5 million project, but just think what this could mean to residents of Norwood and that area of town.”

Councilman Mike McCauley, D-2nd Ward, agreed.

“And I would like to thank Terry and the port authority for seeking to do something with that property,” he said.

The first reading of the resolution of support took place Thursday, but the council members will wait until after the public meeting before making a final decision on the measure.

In other business Thursday, council abolished the Clerk II and Development Specialist positions in the city’s community development office, and created a new Clerk III post, reducing the development staff from three to two.

“The current Clerk II will have expanded duties, so it made sense to create the Clerk III position,” Mullen said.

But Councilman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, disagreed.

“This (development specialist) position has always been used to hire someone with grant writing experience,” he said. “Unfortunately we’re going to lose that now.”

Mullen said with dwindling federal and state funding support it makes sense for the city to cut back in some areas.

“Unfortunately this will take it down to the development director who will act as the grant writer, and two people will be carrying the load of three,” he said.

The development specialist position has been vacant since former specialist Cheyenne Oaks transferred to the position of mayor’s secretary last year.