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Reclaiming the Past: The Richland County Land Bank's Mission to Restore the Westinghouse Site

The Richland County Land Bank is on a mission to restore the former Westinghouse site, a symbol of the region's manufacturing heritage. Despite unforeseen challenges, such as hidden railroad tracks and water issues, the team remains steadfast in their commitment to the project. By recycling concrete and adapting their cleanup strategy, they hope to complete the work by summer. This inspiring story showcases resilience and ingenuity in the face of adversity.

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BNN Correspondents
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Reclaiming the Past: The Richland County Land Bank's Mission to Restore the Westinghouse Site

Reclaiming the Past: The Richland County Land Bank's Mission to Restore the Westinghouse Site

Ghosts of Westinghouse: A Land Bank's Resolute Quest to Reclaim the Past

In the heart of Richland County, Ohio, the echoes of a bygone industrial era still linger. The former Westinghouse site, a sprawling 30-acre expanse, has long been an emblem of the region's rich manufacturing heritage. Yet, as the years rolled by, this once-thriving epicenter of innovation gradually succumbed to decay and neglect.

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The Richland County Land Bank, taking up the mantle of stewardship in August 2021, embarked on a daunting mission: to restore the site to its former glory. With a $3 million state grant providing a lifeline, the land bank oversaw the commencement of cleanup and demolition work. The initial phase began in August 2021, and by December 2022, the arduous process of demolition was underway.

Unforeseen Hurdles: When History Pushes Back

Yet, as the land bank team delved deeper into the site, they discovered that history had left more than just memories behind. Unexpected challenges began to emerge, threatening to derail the project's progress.

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One such challenge was the discovery of railroad tracks hidden beneath layers of concrete. This revelation not only added a significant financial burden to the project but also necessitated a complete overhaul of the initial cleanup strategy. Water issues and the presence of a natural spring further complicated matters, forcing the team to grapple with an ever-shifting landscape.

Despite these setbacks, the land bank remained steadfast in its commitment to the project. To date, they have disbursed a total of $3,263,750 to R&D Excavating, the contractor tasked with the cleanup and demolition work. Yet, with $528,750 still owed, the financial strain on the land bank is evident.

Adapting to Change: Ingenuity in the Face of Adversity

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Yet, amidst these trials, the land bank and its contractor have found reasons for optimism. By recycling the ground concrete from the site, they have managed to make significant headway in the cleanup process. However, formidable challenges still loom large, chief among them being the removal of the remaining thick concrete slabs.

In a recent change order, an additional $446,131.19 was added to the payments owed to R&D, leaving a balance of $279,148.81 still due. As the land bank board contemplates potential additional costs for storm sewer work, continued cleanup, well abandonment, and other unforeseen issues, the future of the project remains uncertain.

Hope Springs Eternal: A Vision for a Brighter Tomorrow

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Despite the myriad challenges that have beset the project, Amy Hamrick, the director of the Richland County Land Bank, remains unwavering in her determination. With hope in her heart and a vision for a brighter tomorrow, she asserts that the cleanup work can be completed by the coming summer.

As the land bank continues its tireless efforts to breathe new life into the former Westinghouse site, the echoes of the past will undoubtedly continue to resonate. Yet, with each passing day, these echoes grow fainter, replaced by the promise of a revitalized landscape that honors the site's storied history while embracing the possibilities of the future.

In this quest to reclaim the past, the Richland County Land Bank serves as a testament to the indomitable spirit of resilience and ingenuity that defines our shared human journey. As we stand on the precipice of a new chapter in the story of the Westinghouse site, we are reminded that even in the face of adversity, hope springs eternal.

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