Coke Plant Property-New Boston

Filed under: — tkm July 17, 2006 @ 21:0 pm


This page is posted by tkm 7-22-06
updated 7-24-06 – See Below (3-20-06)
updated 7-25-06 – See Below
updated 8-11-06 – See Below
updated 8-14-06 – See Below

Due to the possibility of additional information being added to this page and the associated material, I started the chronological sequence at the bottom of the page (farthest date away) to the top of the page (most current date).  If you are reading this material for the first time it would behoove you to start at the bottom and work your way to the top of the page.

Sorry for any confusion.

Thanks,

Teresa

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Council tabled the Ordinance to purchase 17 acres that was previously owned by the New Boston Coke Corp.

The link below is a Public Record, which exposes some of the financial burden that the City taxpayers could have been obligated to finance for the next who knows how many years:

CLICK: 8-14-06 Liens and Court Orders Affecting the New Boston Coke Corp. Real Estate

But, instead Council passed an Ordinance to purchase 2.18 acres, which could also obligate the city taxpayers with the same stipulations as the 17 acres did. See linked Ordinance:

CLICK: Ordinance Passed

I found the below linked article that was published in the Columbus Dispatch, December 5, 2005.

CLICK: 12-5-05 Columbus Dispatch

After reading this article, and in my opinion, New Boston officials found the fools they were looking for to help assume costs of cleanup at the old New Boston Coke Corp. property, and these fools happen to be certain Portsmouth City officials.

Citizens of Portsmouth, you need to attend Monday’s Regular City Council meeting to let Council and the Mayor know you disagree on the purchase of 17 acres property located near the City Water Filtration Plant, formerly ownded by the New Boston Coke Corp. If the ordinance, to purchase this property, is passed the citizens of Portsmouth will be taxed excessively for the environmental cleanup, debts, liens and judgments associated with this property.

Get Involved.

Attend the Regular City Council Meeting

Monday, August 14th 2006

2nd Floor, City Building

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This is a cursory list of liens against the New Boston Coke Corp. property, in question for purchase by the City, and documented by David Kuhn, City Solicitor.

I will post further information about the list linked below, liens against New Boston Coke property, as I receive it.

CLICK: 7-24-06 cursory list

posted by tkm 7-25-06
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On Friday, July 21st, 2006, I went to the Scioto County Court House to request associated documents for the tracks mentioned, in the Ordinance, for purchase by the City of Portsmouth, by the Mayor, from the New Boston Coke Corp.

At the County Auditors office they informed me all liens associated with the property would be documented in the Scioto County Recorders office or the Clerk of Courts office.

My research at the Recorders office found at least three outstanding liens against the tracks of property in question for purchase by the City from the New Boston Coke Corp.

On one lien assessed to the property in question is the amount of $5 million.

CLICK: 11-21-80 5million lien

On a second lien assessed to the property in question is an amount of $10,581, and

CLICK: 11-18-99 CRM lien

On a third lien assessed to the property in question is an amount of $2,300.

CLICK: 2-25-06 Rodeheffer lien

While I was waiting on my copies of the above files I went to the County Clerk of Court’s office to enquire about court cases on file pertaining to the tracks for purchase by the City.

They informed me the file for the New Boston Coke Corp. was at least ¾ of a shelf long and that it would take me several hours, if not days, to actually review all the files and determine what judgments or liens have been placed and continue active on the tracks in question.  They also told me Mr. Kuhn, the City Solicitor, had already reviewed the court cases and that he was in the process of a title search on the property; I decided to wait and get a copy of the completed title search from Mr. Kuhn with a public records request.

On returning to the Recorder’s office to pickup my copies of the above liens Mr. Kuhn walked into the Recorder’s office.  I questioned him “Kuhn” about the progress of the title search, which he replied it was not completed.  At this same time I requested, when completed, a copy of the title search, which he stated to me I was not privy to this information.  After some discussion between Mr. Kuhn and I it was decided I was entitled to these records with a public records request.

At the time I receive my copy of the title search I will incorporate that information into this document.

posted by tkm 7-22-06
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At the July 10th, 2006 Regular City Council Meeting David Malone, 1st Ward Council member, asked the right questions; see the video linked below.

Where is the Plan? and,

How are we going to pay for all the costs associated with this property?

CLICK: 7-10-06 Malone video

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On July 10th, 2006, the following Ordinance was presented to Council, as a first reading, to purchase 17 acres from the New Boston Coke Corporation.  The purchase price for this property was listed at $7,500 per acre, to be paid for through the Water Capital Improvement Fund #606 and Sewer Capital Improvements Fund #301, plus all outstanding real estate taxes associated with the property, as well as any other liens on the property.

Below is a partial itemized list of expenses attached to this property, which is described in the linked Ordinance:

  1. “it will be the City of Portsmouth’s responsibility to determine the status of title and any liens or objections that may exist on the title; and”
  2. “the City will purchase the entire property which is situated in the City of Portsmouth, including the tank farm, and the purchase will be subject (sic) any previous orders of the Court regarding the obligations to remedy any and all environmental hazards (emphasis added)”, associated costs and obligations are unknown.
  3. Parcel No. 34-0674 taxes due as of December 31, 2005, $2,931.11 and paid from Sewer Capital Improvement Fund (Fund #621); this does not include current year taxes.
  4. Parcel No. 34-0669 taxes due as of December 31, 2005, $6,237.73 and paid from Water Capital Improvement Fund (Fund #606); this does not include current year taxes.
  5. Parcel No. 34-0670 taxes due as of December 31, 2005, $52,599.02 and paid from Capital Improvements Fund (Fund #301); this does not include current year taxes.

The city has just experienced rate increases by Mayor Kalb associated with a couple of the above mentioned funds.  These increases were justified, to the public, due to lack of appropriate financial support for maintaining each of the associated departments.

How, just a few months back, could these departments lack funding, but now have enough of a surplus to not only buy property for the MIEX System, but purchase additional property outside the needs of the MIEX System?

Also, how can the auditor allow taxes collected and placed into the appropriate line items be used to finance outside purchases and liabilities associated with the New Boston Coke properties?

This deal continues to sound like another Marting Sham!

CLICK:  7-10-06 Ordinance for 17 Acres 

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July 7th, 2006 letter from Trent Williams, City Auditor, expresses his apprehension with the total appropriations and obligations associated with the purchase of the 17 acres.

Sewer fund #621 and Water Fund #606, by law, are just that, Sewer and Water fund line items associated with maintenance and upkeep for these two departments.  What the Mayor requests is for Council to pay for the purchase of the New Boston Coke Corp. property out of funds that are earmarked with taxes collected for sustaining the Sewer and Water Departments of Portsmouth.

CLICK: 7-7-06 Auditor Letter

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From all appearances the letter linked below on March 22, 2006, Mayor Kalb has been in receipt of and fully aware of the Ohio EPA concerns with the property the City is interested in buying for the new MIEX System. This letter, from the Ohio EPA, expresses their concern, to Kalb, about the potential contaminants associated with this property and the newly planned MIEX System being located on this property without first taking required samples.

Instead of Kalb taking a proactive stance and investigating the possibility of contaminants being associated with the initial property the City is interested in buying, he tries to hurry through an amended deal to purchase additional, potentially contaminated, property, which also contains liens, judgments and other costly expenditures that will ultimately be the responsibility of the city taxpayers.

CLICK: 3-20-06 Ohio EPA Letter to Mayor Kalb

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A letter dated March 17th, 2006, from Joseph Kirby, clarifies to Mr. Kuhn, the City Solicitor, that no discussions were held between himself “Kirby” and the Mayor, which approved the Mayor to request, from Council, additional or modified legislation for the acquisition of the additional acreage, at the listed associated costs, as reported in the Portsmouth Daily Times.

As I see it, the Mayor took it upon himself to modify the Ordinance, prior to passage by council, without prior consent from the attorney “Kirby” who is handling the receivership for the New Boston Coke Corp.

CLICK: 3-17-06 Kirby to Kuhn Letter 

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The May 13th, 2006, Portsmouth Daily Times (PDT) article, by Jeff Baron, reported that Council approved the purchase of 2.1 acres of land behind the Water Filtration Plant and not to exceed the cost of $10,900.00.  By all appearances the public would assume the Mayor had been given the authority to negotiate, for the city, this property with the receivership attorney.

What Ordinance passed, by Council, gave the Mayor the authority to negotiate a deal with Mr. Kirby, receivership attorney for the New Boston Coke Corp property?

CLICK:  3-13-06 PDT Coke Property 

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Linked below are the minutes from the March 13th, 2006, Regular City Council Meeting where Vice President Mohr, noting the acreage to have changed from 1 to 2.18 acres with the associated cost increase of $6,000.00 to $10,900.00, made a motion to amend the ordinance accordingly.

CLICK: 3-13-06 Council Minutes 

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March 13th, 2006, the Ordinance passed authorizing the Mayor to purchase the property adjacent to the current Water Filtration Plant from the New Boston Coke Corp.; this property is currently in receivership.

The Ordinance was passed by suspending the requirement for three separate readings.

CLICK:  3-13-06 Ordinance passed

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In a letter of March 13th, 2006, the Mayor requests Council to change his initial request of approximately 1 acre property plot to 2.18 acres property plot.  This property is located in the vicinity of the existing Water Filtration Plant and currently in receivership; the property was formerly owned by the New Boston Coke Plant.

The change to a 2.18 acres property plot needed for the MIEX System instead of the initial approximately 1 acre property plot is largely due to poor planning by our Mayor.

CLICK:  3-13-06 Kalb to Council

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Minutes from the February 27th, 2006, Regular City Council Meeting is linked below.

During this meeting Bob Mollette, 1st Ward Councilman, tries to ensure that citizens of Portsmouth, the taxpayers, are kept updated on the issues associated with the MIEX project.

Due to Bob’s written questions to the Mayor, concerning the MIEX System, including associated property, and his questioning attitude during the public meeting the Mayor reminded Bob he had offered to respond to his “Bob’s” questions in his, the Mayor’s, office, which, I might add, is not open to the public.  Bob further reminded the Mayor of the “Open Meetings Law,” properly referred to as the “The Sunshine Laws,” and expressed his desires for wanting citizens who might be interested in this project to have information available to them.

How can citizens have questions if information and discussions are not made available to them concerning impending issues?

CLICK: 2-27-06 Council minutes

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February 13th, 2006

COUNCIL LETTER No. 06-08

This letter request the purchase of approximately 1 acre of property, behind the Portsmouth Filtration Plant.  This property, owned by the New Boston Coke Corp., was selected to accommodate the future MIEX Water Treatment System structure, and after reading the attached Council Letter I would assume this listed acreage would satisfy the needs of the City for the MIEX system structure.

So, why is the City of Portsmouth purchasing more property than is required to meet the needs for the MIEX Project? and,

Is the City getting involved in the Real Estate business in order to bail out some business or individuals.

Again, I get the feeling the City might be developing another deal like the Marting Sham or one resembling the Viaduct property transaction.  Wasn’t the Viaduct property reported, by the City, to be potentially contaminated?

CLICK:  2-13-06 Council Letter 06-08

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City Solicitor’s Kuhn’s letter to Mayor Kalb (dated Feb. 3, 2006), regarding the purchase of a parcel of  land adjacent to the Water Filtration Plant, is noteworthy as much for what it doesn’t as for what it does say. For example, it says nothing about the testing of the soil that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency was going to do, testing that Kirby in a letter to Kuhn (June 22, 2005) said was very important for prospective buyers to know about. Kirby in that same letter to Kuhn (June 22, 2005) had written that the testing by the Ohio EPA was not expected to be finished for twelve months, or approximately June of 2006. Why is there no mention of the Ohio EPA testing of the soil in the Feb. 3, 2006, letter?  Had the testing been competed sooner than expected? If so, what were the results? If the tests were not complete, why are these negotiations, which began without apparent authorization, going forward? Why is Mr. Kirby advising the city of Portsmouth not only to put in a bid but also suggesting what amount that bid should be – $5,000 per acre

The letter makes it sound as if a deal may have been in the works  between the Coke Corp, which Kirby represents, on the one hand, and the Conley Trucking Co. and the City of Portsmouth, on the other. What the City proposes to do with the parcel of property it wants to purchase is not explained in the letter.  Mr. Kuhn and by extension the City of Portsmouth appears eager to purchase not so much a pig in a poke as a possibly contaminated parcel classified as Brownfield property at whatever price the seller suggests to ask for it. This is no way to run a business and it is no way to run a city either.

CLICK:  2-3-06 Kalb to Council letter

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In a letter dated June 22nd, 2005, Coke Property receivership Attorney Joseph D.  Kirby relayed to City Solicitor David Kuhn a summary of a discussion Kirby had just had with “Howard Boughman” (sic), President of Portsmouth City Council. As Kuhn earlier had, Baughman had expressed to Kirby the city’s desire to acquire a piece of land located behind the Portsmouth Water Filtration Plant, land owned by the New Boston Coke Company. Baughman had also told Kirby of the city of Portsmouth’s support for the plan of the Conley Trucking Co. to purchase and develop property at the New Boston site.

Mr. Kirby made it clear to Kalb that any discussion of the city purchasing property at the site was premature. For one thing, the land had not yet been tested by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. A grant for such a test had been obtained, but it would take about a year for the Ohio EPA to complete its testing. The most important point Kirby makes in his letter to Kuhn is “The Ohio EPA is concerned that all potential purchasers of the real estate be aware of the work that needs to done to make the land safe.”

By what authorization were Kuhn and Baughman supporting the Conley project and by what authorization were they trying to negotiate for property for the city, property whose levels and extent of toxicity had yet to be determined?  If trying to negotiate for the purchase of contaminated property for the city without authorization is not illegal, it is certainly very foolish. The suspicion remains that the City Solicitor and the President of Council, claiming to represent the city of Portsmouth, were trying to acquire property whose true value they did not have the foggiest notion of. Whosever interests they might have been serving in trying to acquire the property, they were not the interests of Portsmouth taxpayers.  Just as the purchase of the Marting building was negotiated secretly and illegally, without regard for the asbestos contamination, and without regard for its suitability as a municipal building, the City Solicitor and the President of Council were attempting, without apparent authorization, to negotiate for New Boston Coke Corp. real estate that might cost the city many millions to make usable. And make usable for what? What plans has the city for the property? The Latin phrase Caveat Emptor means “let the buyer beware.” Potential purchasers, as Kirby conscientiously pointed out, need to “be aware of the work that needs to be done to make the land safe.” The Marting’s fiasco has made Portsmouth taxpayers wary of all “expedited” purchases of property. It will be a long time before taxpayers will again be bamboozled by a dishonest mayor and a complicit city council when it comes to the purchase of controversial real estate.

CLICK:  6-22-05 Kirby to Kuhn letter

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On June 8th, 2005, Portsmouth City Solicitor David Kuhn wrote a letter to Joseph D. Kirby, the attorney managing the receivership for New Boston Coke Corp. In the letter, Kuhn said the City wanted to acquire real estate owned by the New Boston Coke Corp., which is adjacent to the existing Portsmouth Water Filtration Plant property.

One of the peculiar things about this letter is how City Solicitor Kuhn, writing to Mr. Kirby for the City on official stationery, can be endorsing the Conley Trucking Co. bid for the property but also negotiating for the purchase of a piece of the New Boston Coke Corp property. There was no Ordinance or Resolution brought before the Portsmouth City Council on this matter before the June 8th, 2005, date of this letter.

In the last paragraph you will also note the comment by the Solicitor to “Joe,” that “Time is of the essence with respect to this proposed development, not only because we understand that there are other parties who are interested in acquiring this property, but also because of the potential environmental problems in some of the adjoining property.”
The City not only sided with potential buyers, the Conley Co., but also admitted in this letter that environmental hazards were present on adjoining property, contaminated property that the City of Portsmouth now wants to buy and accept all responsibility for cleaning up, regardless of the possible expense.

The property in New Boston is distressed property, just as the Marting building is. The city once again appears to be bailing out private property owners at public expense. The city is now stuck with the Marting building, which cost taxpayers millions. Is the City of Portsmouth about to try something similar with the New Boston Coke Corp property? And did the City, acting through the City Solicitor, proceed without proper authorization, in violation of the law, as it did in the Marting purchase? And will we find out the answers to these questions only after it is too late?

CLICK:  6-8-05 Kuhn to Kirby letter

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