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Calamityville site cleared by EPA

Fairborn and Wright State University cleared a major hurdle this week when the Environmental Protection Agency provided an official document that opens the door for the city to turn Calamityville over to WSU.

The Ohio EPA issued its “covenant not to sue” letter to Fairborn for the 52-acre site, which is home to the National Center for Medical Readiness, also known as Calamityville, at 506 E. Xenia Drive.

The property — the former CEMEX plant — is a brownfield site, and the letter states that no additional cleanup is required and it releases any parties from any legal responsibility for past contamination.

“We’re really happy we’re at the end here,” Fairborn City Manager Deborah McDonnell said. “The university can take control and really build the world-class facility they’ve been envisioning.”

WSU leases the property from the city for Calamityville, a collaborative training and research facility that opened in March 2011. Its purpose is to prepare civilian and military medical communities and first-responders for disasters.

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.

“We have received the news from the city that the EPA submitted the letter of no further action, and university leaders will meet soon to discuss next steps,” WSU spokeswoman Stephanie Gottschlich said in a statement.

McDonnell said the city’s and WSU’s legal teams are working on the final purchase agreement, and the university’s board of trustees is expected to consider it at its next scheduled meeting Oct. 4. Potentially coinciding with that will be Fairborn city council’s vote to turn the property over to WSU.

The documentation will then be sent to the state for approval, McDonnell said.

“I’d like to believe it will be done by the end of the year,” she said. “We’re closer than ever.”

The city has made it a point to focus on economic development along the Interstate 675 corridor. The average daily traffic count around Calamityville is 11,278, according to the latest figures available from 2010.

“We’re thrilled that this phase is concluded and the university can move forward with their plans to become more aggressive with that property,” said Chris Wimsatt, the city’s economic development director. “It creates another asset in that part of the community, which has a multiplier effect with regard to development.”

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.

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

Calamityville has 12 full-time employees and an annual operating budget of $1.2 million.

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