Vienna makes move to buy plant

VIENNA – Vienna City Council voted unanimously Thursday to enter into a purchase and sale agreement to purchase the former Johns Manville plant site.

The property at 2905 Second Ave. is owned by Structures Resources Inc., a company based in Huntington and owned by Bob Childers.

According to the purchase and sale agreement, approximately 34.5 acres of the Johns Manville plant site, which is the entire property, will be purchased for approximately $900,000.

The city will be pulling the $900,000 from its Capital Reserve Fund, said Vienna Mayor Randy Rapp.

“This will be one of the most exciting projects we have seen in a long time,” said Rapp of the purchase agreement. “We have been working for this for a long time,” he said.

Special meetings and public forums regarding the pending purchase of the Johns Manville plant property will be held at 7 p.m. July 23 at the Jackson Community Building, near Jackson Middle School, and on July 24 at 6 p.m. at the Vienna City Building in council chambers, at 609 29th St., to address public concerns about the brownfield site, Rapp said.

All of the environmental information, including previously purchased environmental reports by the city, will be available for public inspection at these two meetings, Rapp said.

“Everything will be laid out in the open,” Rapp said of the environmental reports.

The preliminary environmental reports, which the city originally received during a 45-minute executive session on March 20, were described as “very good,” Rapp said.

The condition of the property varies depending on where the land is located on the property and what the land will be used for, Rapp said.

Parts of the property require two to six inches of dirt to be placed on them before use, and most of the Rebar-containing concrete needs to be removed, Rapp said. Portions of the property have been deemed usable in their current condition, Rapp said.

The only building remaining on the site is part of a warehouse, although piles of debris and steel still remain, Rapp said. All of the steel on the site will be reclaimed and the city anticipates that the cost of the reclaimed steel will pay for the remaining site clean-up, Rapp said.

Whether the city or the current owner will be responsible for that clean-up has not been decided, Rapp said.

The site is split into four designated parcels for the transaction. Parcel 1 consists of 11.6 aces of industrial property, where the Johns Manville plant once stood, the agreement said.

Parcel 2 contains 25.3 acres of recreational property located west of the public road that bisects the property, the agreement said.

Parcel 3 contains 5 acres of mostly undeveloped property and is located north and northeast of parcel 1, with the exception of two existing homes which are not included in the proposed sale, the agreement said.

Parcel 4 contains 2.6 acres of undeveloped property located south of parcel 1, the agreement said.

Vienna City Council went into executive session to discuss the purchase of the property at 7:27 p.m. Thursday.

At 7:29 p.m., former city councilman Paul Thornton was summoned into the meeting by Councilman Roger Bibbee. Thornton resigned from council to become city community development director on July 1.

At 8 p.m., council emerged from executive session and announced that the decision to enter the purchase and sale agreement had been made, said Rapp.

Rapp asked City Attorney Russell Skogstad Jr. to draft the ordinance for the purchase of the property during its Thursday evening meeting. This ordinance will have its first reading during the July 17 special meeting of the City Council at 7 p.m. in council chambers, Rapp said.

The city has plans for the property, including extending 28th Street to the Ohio River, a 15-acre riverfront park, and other ideas.

“That 35-acre tract in the middle of town has been an eyesore for so long. Now we will get it cleaned up so it can be used to benefit the city,” Rapp said.

City council briefly discussed its options for filling the seat left by Thornton’s departure for the newly created development director position. No action was taken on this matter during Thursday’s meeting.

Council passed a motion appointing Cassandra Rapp as director of the Vienna Library Board for a five-year term with votes of 5-0-1, with Mayor Rapp, Cassandra’s husband, abstaining. The position is from July 1 this year to June 30, 2019, and she will not be compensated for the position.

Council passed a motion appointing Councilman Bruce Rogers to the Vienna Utility Board, retroactive from April 28 of this year to April 28, 2018, with a vote of 5-0-1. Rogers abstained from the vote and left the room during the discussion and voting process.

The city’s first emergency drill, simulating a truck wrecking into the substation by the Foodland at 400 23rd St., will begin on July 23 at 11 a.m., signaled by the extended sounding of the fire department siren.

There will be a public hearing at 4 p.m. July 22 in council chambers to discuss pending revisions to the city’s Community Development Block Grant fund allocations, Rapp said. Funds will be reallocated for the purchase and installation of Americans with Disabilities Act accessible doors and restrooms in city areas.