Land bank, closer to reality

By Wayne Allen - [email protected]

An organizational meeting of what will be the Scioto County Land Bank Board of Directors was recently held.

At the meeting the urgency of forming a corporation, for which the land bank would operate, was stressed.

Recently the Southern Ohio Port Authority (SOPA) facilitated a meeting between officials from the city of Portsmouth, village of New Boston and Scioto County to talk about establishing a county land bank.

The organizational meeting served as a followup to the initial meeting.

SOPA brought in officials with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy to discuss what efforts need to be made to establish a county land bank.

The Scioto Foundation has offered to pay the startup costs of the land bank, as a grant to SOPA and SOPA has volunteered to administer the land bank once established.

The foundation are also payed the conservancy to serve as consultants to SOPA and the land bank

At the recent meeting a representative from conservancy said the formation of the land bank corporation is up to the Scioto County Commissioners.

They said the commissioners will have to pass a resolution allowing for a corporation to be formed. Once the corporation is formed the commissioners will pass a second resolution, naming the corporation the authoritative body to handle the counties blighted housing stock, with the goal of eventually putting it back on the tax rolls.

Jason Kester, Executive Director of SOPA defined a land bank as, “a community organization that deals with blighted houses. One of the things we identified with the America’s Best Communities Grant as a weakness of our community was the lack of recreational opportunities and lack of entry level housing.”

Kester said you can find communities of higher value housing and you can find communities of blighted housing.

“We have an issue in housing. There are over 3,000 blighted houses in Scioto County. How to address that issue has been identified (as a need of the community),” Kester said.

At the recent meeting those in attendance, time is of the essence. It was estimated the land bank needed to be formed in the next 4-6 weeks to qualify for potentially millions of dollars in federal funding.

The city of Portsmouth has an established Land Reutilization Program, that will get folded into the land bank once formed.

Those in attendance at the meeting were excited about the possibilities of the land bank.

Once the corporation is formed a board of directors will be named. Members of the board will include two county commissioners, Portsmouth City Manager, New Boston Mayor and a representative from a township.

It’s anticipated the Scioto County Commissioners will take the first steps to form the corporation, at an upcoming meeting.

By Wayne Allen

[email protected]

Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT

Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT