The city of Ravenna deserves to be commended for leading the effort to transform a blighted brownfield site near the downtown area into a park.
The former Smith and Cowan site, which is located in an area spanning West Main Street and Highland Avenue is being targeted for a clean-up this summer, with plans to utilize the frontage along Highland for recreational purposes. Funding from the effort will come from a $50,000 Brownfield Action Grant that was awarded to the city.
The site, which most recently housed a concrete plant, is dominated by scaffolding and equipment and littered with piles of concrete and other leftovers from its former tenant. The scaffolding is an "attractive nuisance" that draws trespassers to the area and poses a potential safety hazard.
The city will utilize scrap fees from the removal of the scaffolding and equipment to help offset cleanup costs. Another $12,000 from the brownfield grant will be used to remove an underground storage tank at the site.
The parcel between Highland and West Main has three owners, all of whom have been cited because of the debris, illegal parking and hazardous conditions there. One of the owners has opted to transfer its land to the city via Neighborhood Development Services, which is among a number of public and private entities involved in the clean-up effort. Long-term leasing is another possibility for a separate parcel.
The Smith and Cowan site has detracted from its surroundings for decades. Clearing the debris that has been there for so long will be a significant improvement. Redevelopment of the cleared site for recreational purposes will be a bonus. Possibilities include extension of the Portage Hike and Bike Trail, which would draw hikers directly into the downtown area, as well as creation of an amphitheater and recreational facility. Together, they would transform an eyesore into an asset. That's a laudable goal.