Clean up of paper mill site to cost more, take longer

West Carrollton wants to bring jobs back to downtown corridor.

Buried debris and foundations discovered at the former Fraser Paper mill have increased project costs — which are now expected to exceed $1 million — and delaying the completion of the work at the South Elm Street site, said West Carrollton Planning Director Greg Gaines.

The city has been working to clean up the site — which once employed more than 300 workers — so it can market the land to bring more jobs to its downtown corridor, said Tom Ross, West Carrollton economic development director.

Gaines said in March, when the city kicked off what it called the final phase of the project, the work could be complete by the end of the year. Now, it will take more than $400,000 to make the land “shovel ready,” according to a contractor’s estimate, and it may not be done for two to three years, depending on the availability of grant money, Gaines said.

“This project would constitute the next phase of the overall plan to eliminate the blighting effect of the 16.8-acre site on the surrounding neighborhood and to return the property to productive use,” Gaines stated in a memo to City Manager Brad Townsend about the recent discoveries on the land.

In cleaning up the site, Townsend said, the city has made an effort to use as much outside funding as possible, even if that means delaying its ultimate completion.

“It’s taken us longer to complete, but at a substantial cost savings” to city residents, he said.

Including the city’s payment of $300,000 to buy the land, more than $650,000 — much it coming from land bank funds by the county and other grants — has been spent. The most recent $403,756 that Steve R. Rauch Inc. estimates is needed will make the project’s cost more than $1 million.

About $100,000 is planned to be put into the work this year. The city last week submitted an application from Community Development Block Grant program with the city chipping in $20,000, according to city records.

The CDBG program is operated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, but applications are submitted to Montgomery County, Gaines said.

County land bank funds, which the city has previously been awarded, will also be sought to fund the remaining work, he said.

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