A derelict property of the days of low-priced gas may soon vanish into the history books as Canal Winchester works with Franklin County to bring an end to the former Parker Marathon service station at 18 W. Waterloo St.
Canal Winchester Development Director Chris Strayer said the village previously planned to spend approximately $6,000 to tear down the aging structure at their own expense, but the county said it could provide assistance with the endeavor.
However, wiping the state clean involves more than hauling away a broken down facade. Fuel tanks still lie underground and their clean-up is not only costly; it also involves the Environmental Protection Agency.
Above ground, concrete continues to crumble, vines wind around the perimeter of the property, and a single pump island stands idle without its mechanical sentries. Efforts to rehabilitate the site have been met with some difficulties.
In March 2007, Franklin County Treasurer Ed Leonard told Canal Winchester Village Council that the county worked with the prosecutor to get the distressed property back to a sheriff’s sale, although there were no bidders. The county then assumed ownership from David Parker and turned it over to the County Improvement Corporation (CIC), a non-profit holding company.
Two years ago, the land worth was estimated at $63,700. The site, constructed in 1975, is now used as a temporary parking lot. In 2002, the state took over control of the property, but the title was transferred back to Parker in 2006 before falling into the hands of the CIC. Taxes have not been paid since 1988 and are estimated in excess of $60,000.
However, the process of renovating the downtown site was also hampered by a change in procedure at the state level.
"The Ohio Department of Development started a new program with a revolving loan," reported Strayer, "but they had to go through the EPA, who approved the project. The department then had to go back and develop criteria, which they’ve finished. Now, it’s just a matter of the CIC reapplying for the funding."
The 18 W. Waterloo St. parcel consistently ranks at the top of village redevelopment lists. Proposed uses include retail, municipal, or law enforcement. Despite the brownfield condition of the site, the potential sale price, availability of utilities and parking, access to right-of-way, permitted uses, and community development benefit rate high as desirable characteristics.