Rumors abound that the Kasich Administration is seriously considering totally overhauling the Clean Ohio brownfield grant program. Multiple sources have indicated that the Administration is discussing internally making the next round of Clean Ohio the last for the program in its current form.
During the transportation engineers conference in Columbus, Governor Kasich made remarks that Clean Ohio would be reconstituted. He said the program needs to improve upon providing funding projects that have the best opportunity to either create or retain jobs.
Back in April I wrote a post titled Clean Ohio Ends 2013….What Next? In that post I discussed that the Department of Development was planning on four rounds for the competitive Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund (CORF):
- Round 11 in November 2011 (applications have already been submitted)
- Round 12 in Award in July 2012 (applications due in January or February)
- Round 13 in November 2012
- Round 14 in July 2013
In addition, to the Clean Ohio Assistance Fund (COAF) would receive new funding in July 2012 which would provide assessment (Phase II) funding through July 13.
The Kasich Administration may be planning on scrapping Rounds 13 and 14 and making Round 12 the final round. If this happens it will make the final round highly competitive with many cities trying to cram projects in at the last opportunity.
There are no details that have been released publicly as to how the remaining funds (Rounds 13 and 14) may be used. One possibility discussed was the Administration would proactively target sites rather than allow developers to join with cities in filing applications. Another possibility would be to do away with the Redevelopment Ready and Sustainability Reinvestment tracks that do not require immediate development or jobs.
Its hard to comment on the merits of a new program when details have not been released. However, there is no doubt the Clean Ohio program is extremely popular with all the cities as well as developers. The program has been the key to allowing redevelopment on a number of highly contaminated and complex sites that would have otherwise sat idle. In Ohio, where brownfields are too numerous, the COAF and CORF grants literally forced development onto underutilized or vacant properties.
Because Clean Ohio was passed by the voters, it seems impossible for the Administration to redirect the money to other programs than brownfields. However, the Administration does have the latitude to completely reshape the process for how sites get selected for funding.
We will have to watch to see how it unfolds. Regardless, it looks rather certain Clean Ohio as we know it will not look the same after the January Round.