ZANESVILLE – If you’ve lived in the Zanesville area for any period of time or even just drove through the city, you’ve most likely seen or at least heard of the former Lear Property on Linden Avenue. The area has never failed to spark controversy since its demolition almost five years ago.
“As soon as demolition started on that, there were concerns and that was about five years ago when they started demolishing it. It was supposed to be cleaned up in phases to drop the building, clean some stuff up, drop the building, clean some stuff up. By the time everybody realized that was going on, it was too late,” Muskingum County Land Bank Executive Director Andy Roberts said.
The former Lear Property was underneath the Muskingum County Land Bank since April of 2020. The City of Zanesville acquired it after posting the minimum bid of $28,000 in June. The city is now in discussions with the U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA to soon perform test borings and gather soil samples to gauge just what all of the environmental hazards are for a property containing asbestos all around its debris. For Mayor and Zanesville native Don Mason, the acquisition is much more than cleaning up a patch of field. The Linden Avenue plot is personal to him.
“I remember when I used to run down Linden Avenue; I lived on the corner or Linden and West Monroe and I would run up and down the street and up and down the street. It was a great neighborhood. People lived across the street and a lot of worked in United Technology as it was known. When I see people come in irresponsibly and illegally tear a building down without asbestos abatement, it maddens me because I know that effects the quality of life of those who lived across the street, who live across the street now, it affects those who drove that area, it affects those who want to use that area to show their family where they grew up or where they worked and its an eyesore,” Mason said.
Mason feels, in the long term, the project will benefit the community in dividends.
“My overall goal is to increase outside investment into this area and the number one beneficiary is actually going to be a neighborhood but the number two is going to be Zanesville City Schools. If we can bring more investment inside the City of Zanesville, that creates better cash flow for Zanesville City Schools which will help them teach their children, which will help us improve our community, that’s my goal. It’s holistic,” Mason said.
The Former Lear Property is also right across the street from one of the city’s most visited destinations, the Barn Restaurant. Owner Jim Watson has had to look at the wasteland for several years. He is pleased that the land is under city ownership.
“I think the city now has a pretty good plan to get that cleaned up so I’m excited to see that plan come together and you know especially the surface, start there, get that cleaned up and then remedy the piece of property so it an be a usable piece of property,” Watson said.
Although the former Lear Property was purchased for $28,000, the city is operating on a $500,000 budget for its cleanup.