By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer
READING - This Hamilton County city stuck in a struggling industrial valley needs federal and state dollars before its economy can diversify and attract sophisticated development, city officials said.
They stressed the importance of receiving two $200,000 grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at a Tuesday hearing before Council.
Linda Fitzgerald, the city's economic development consultant, said an 18-acre brownfield along Reading Road would lie dormant unless the city applied for the grants.
"We are in an industrial valley. Unless you do it this way, you will not be eligible for the remediation funds. We either do nothing ... or we start taking baby steps. (This way) at least we're moving forward," she said.
The two grant applications would be to assess the contamination on a 3.5-acre parcel that fronts Reading Road and 14.8 acres behind it. The property has been used for commercial and industrial purposes for more than a century.
The grant applications will be submitted in the next two weeks, but city administrators will not learn until the end of the year whether or not Reading made the cut. Reading will be competing with more than 900 communities nationwide. The city will be one of 13 Ohio applicants.
If they receive the grants, they then will conduct lab tests and groundwater samplings to discern whether the property is polluted with PCBs and petroleum.
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