Cleanup at Royal China Site in Sebring Gains Momentum

SEBRING, Ohio – Remediation of the long-contaminated Royal China site took a major step forward Monday with the beginning of delineation testing that will identify specific sections of soil that need to be removed or covered.

Michael Conny, president of MAC Trailer in Alliance, who acquired the property in 2020, and state and county leaders who provided the funding for the $1.82 million cleanup project celebrated the milestone.

“We’re a big step closer to bringing back some of the jobs that were lost with the unfortunate closing of Royal China in the 1980s,” said state Sen. Michael Rulli of Salem, R-33rd. “We’re pleased that Mr. Conny stepped up to take over this property and that Ohio’s 2022 brownfield remediation program provided the funding we needed to finally move forward.”

Conny, a native of Sebring, bought the 20-acre property from the Mahoning County Land Bank, which had acquired it after a tax foreclosure. He has since cleared the property surface of trash, debris and overgrowth, and planted trees along the street edge.

The delineation sampling that began Monday is expected to be complete this week, said Mahoning County Treasurer Dan Yemma, chairman of the land bank’s board of directors. The results will delineate which contaminated soil must be removed and which sections of the site need to be covered safely with new dirt. The work will last through summer and into fall, Yemma said.

“We’re eager to coordinate with Mr. Conny, the consultants and the state to secure the regulatory approval needed to clear the site for redevelopment,” Yemma said. “We appreciate the collaboration we’ve enjoyed since we began coordinating this project several years ago.”

The land bank was the grantee for a recent $1.5 million state brownfield grant for the Sebring cleanup. The grant matched investments of $231,000 by county commissioners and Conny.

When the remediation is complete, the land bank will ask its remediation consultants, Brownfield Restoration Group, based in Akron, to write a “No Further Action” letter to confirm that the cleanup met the standards of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and that the site is ready for reuse.

“These testing and remediation activities are important for securing the environmental clearance needed to redevelop brownfield sites like this,” said state Rep. Lauren McNally of Youngstown, D-59th. “We’d like to see additional funding for brownfield redevelopment so that the good work happening here in Sebring can be replicated at other challenging sites across the Mahoning Valley and throughout Ohio.”

Pictured at top: From left are Dan Yemma, Mahoning County treasurer and chairman of the Mahoning County Land Bank’s board of directors; William “Artie” Spellman, Ellsworth Township trustee and a member of the land bank’s board of directors; Debora Flora, executive director of the land bank; state Rep. Lauren McNally; Roger Smith, director of planning, acquisition and disposition at the land bank; Mahoning County Commissioner David Ditzler; Michael Conny, president of MAC Trailer; Sebring Mayor James Harp; and State Sen. Michael Rulli.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.