Girard receives EPA grant to clean up old leather processing factory land

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Money from the grant will be used to clean up soil contaminated during the leather-making process

GIRARD, Ohio (WKBN) – The United States Environmental Protection Agency has awarded the city of Girard with a $500,000 grant to clean up the former Ohio Leatherworks property.

The old Leatherworks property off of N. State Street closed in 1969, once a staple in the city’s economy.

The land was formerly a leather processing operation where animal hides were tanned, dyed and tempered with chemicals to make them softer and more pliable, according to a press release. Only a few remnants of the factory remain, along with piles of gravel and dirt.

The property is contaminated and needs to be cleaned up, which is what the grant will be used for, along with supporting community outreach activities.

The funding comes from the Brownfields Program through Multipurpose, Assessment and Cleanup (MAC) Grants.

“EPA’s Brownfields Program is providing critical funding to help empower Ohio communities to address the environmental, public health and social issues associated with contaminated land,” said Acting EPA Regional Administrator Cheryl Newton.

Back in December 2018, Girard Mayor Jim Melfi said they had applied for the grant.

“We now can start the process of cleaning up that contamination and bringing 27 acres, prime acres that is commercial, and light industrial back to life in the city of Girard right on 422,” he said.

Some things Melfi said he’d like to see on the property were a picnic area with a walking and biking path and a bridge leading across the Mahoning River to the other side.

“This is an honor to the citizens who labored at the Ohio Leatherworks from 1900 to 1970… These citizens supported their families and our nation through two world wars. And now, a half century later, a rebirth,” Melfi said.

The press release also said Ohio communities have received over $90 million through 206 Brownfields Program grants.

Click here for the full list of communities that were selected to receive grants.

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