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Fairborn, WSU waiting on EPA clearance for Calamityville site

Fairborn and Wright State University still are waiting for the Environmental Protection Agency to provide an official document that will allow the city to turn Calamityville over to WSU.

The National Center for Medical Readiness, a 52-acre site also known as Calamityville, is a brownfield site — the former CEMEX plant at 506 E. Xenia Drive. Before the city can turn over the property to WSU officially, it must get a letter from the EPA that says that no further action is required on the land.

Calamityville opened in March 2011. Run by WSU, Calamityville is a collaborative training and research facility, and its purpose is to prepare civilian and military medical communities and first-responders for disasters.

Fairborn city manager Deborah McDonnell recently told City Council that the EPA’s letter of “no further action” is “in the EPA’s hands. … They didn’t really give us a deadline.” A year ago, McDonnell said she expected the letter to be finalized in the next 12 months.

Dina Pierce, spokeswoman for the Ohio EPA, said the technical department is expected to wrap up its review in the next couple weeks, then it will move on to the legal department and eventually the director to sign off on the letter.

“It’s moving through the process and it will hopefully be completed in the next couple of months, give or take,” Pierce said.

McDonnell didn’t expect any issues with the EPA releasing the site.

“It’s just part of the process,” McDonnell said this week. “It’s just a matter of the EPA having the time to do what they need to finish it for us. I don’t suspect it will take much longer. We’re not anticipating any type of major glitch of any kind.”

It cost $4 million to clean up the Calamityville site — $3 million in state and federal grants as well as a $1 million match from WSU. The city mowed the property a few times and paid the electric bill twice before it leased it to WSU. The city has not spent any money on the property since then, McDonnell said.

Ryan Fendley, interim director of Calamityville, told council that WSU is developing and finalizing the site plan for the city’s planning board to review.

“We, like the city, are looking forward to the finalization of the Ohio EPA letter of ‘no further action’ so we can continue the development of the facility and the delivery of the top tier experiential training that NCMR offers,” Fendley said.

In the city of Fairborn’s 2010 comprehensive annual financial report, Calamityville — when fully operational — has a projected economic impact of $374 million over a five-year period for the Miami Valley region, according to an economic analysis prepared by WSU.

“We have every intent of delivering on our promise to the city to turn that into a very viable economic development engine,” WSU spokeswoman Stephanie Gottschlich said.

Gottschlich said the projected impact still stands today, noting that Calamityville is a “couple years out” from being fully operational.

The city has made it a point to focus on economic development along the Interstate 675 corridor, and plans to invest nearly $2 million in three projects over the next few years — the bikeway connector, Xenia Drive improvements and the widening of Dayton Drive.

“We want to make it attractive to people and for development,” city engineer Jim Sawyer said. “That will spur jobs, housing, an economy base for everybody.”

The average daily traffic count around Calamityville is 11,278, according to the latest figures available from 2010. Sawyer said that number has dropped over the years as a result of several gates closing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

“The excitement is there and the land value is there,” Sawyer said. “This is a hard time for development. The economic crash we went through several years ago has slowed down the process a great deal. You’re not going to get business if you don’t have cars going by you, and 11,000 is a good number.”

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