Port Authority accepts Reserve Center proposal

The Southeastern Ohio Port Authority Board voted in a special meeting Tuesday to accept a proposal made by Mark A. Mondo and Companies to partner in the development of the former Washington County Memorial U.S. Army Forces Reserve Center in Reno.

A second proposal by MPR-Alliance was also considered by the board.

The reserve property extends from Ohio 7 to the Ohio River and is adjacent to the East Lawn Memorial Park and Valley Cemetery.

The two proposals were submitted in response to the Port Authority’s open call for ideas on how the building and land, currently classified by the General Services Administration (GSA) as excess property, could best be used to benefit “the Port Authority, the partner and the greater community.”

“We had two very different and equally interesting proposals to consider,” said Tom Webster, chair of SeOPA, in a press release. “The decision the board made was based on the proposed usage for the property as outlined in the proposals.”

The board also considered information shared by the two companies as well as questions and concerns expressed at a public forum held in Reno in June.

The proposal that was selected provides for the renovation of the Reserve building for use as office or light manufacturing space with job creation as one of the goals. Community use of the renovated building was also part of the successful proposal. In addition, a veterans’ memorial will be developed with sight line to the river.

The Mondo partnership is committed to mitigating any environmental concerns on the site at no cost to the taxpayer, according to the port authority press release.

Selection of the private partner is the first step in developing the property, Webster said.

“Now that we have a partner we will go to GSA and work with them to set a purchase price for the property,” he said. “Once a price is fixed, the private partner will assist SeOPA with financing the property; SeOPA will establish a formal contract with the Mondo Companies for leasing the property and fulfillment of the terms its proposal.”

In addition to leveraging private investment and job creation, the board also considered the overall benefit to the public of how the property will be used.

Webster said previously the authority has no money to purchase the property, so the board members determined a public/private partnership would be needed to move forward with any development, and a request for proposals from private entities was advertised.

MPR-Alliance had proposed developing a transload facility along a former lock wall on the Ohio River at the lower end of the property.

Barges carrying stone, slag and other aggregate materials needed to construct oil and gas wellpads are unloaded at its Bellaire facility and trucked to well sites in Ohio and West Virginia.

At the Reno site, barges carrying aggregates, pipe and other materials could have been loaded for transport south, or off-loaded onto trucks for transport to drilling sites and other facilities in the north.