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Opinion: A Call for Simple Solutions to Local Challenges

John Rush John Rush Opinion: A Call for Simple Solutions to Local ChallengesPhoto by Walker Evans.
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The fire at Dick Cold Storage on August 19th continues to plague Columbus’ West Side. While Franklin Township first responders and City of Columbus personnel did a great job containing the fire and protecting the community immediately after, bureaucracy has stained the cleanup process.

Dick Cold Storage has been an anchor in my community for four generations — providing careers to local residents, taxes to support the local government and support for community initiatives and activities. One month after the fire that destroyed their facility, the company and the impacted West Side neighborhoods are still struggling with life altering after-effects.

I own and operate two small businesses on the west side, including a demolition company. Comparatively speaking, there are many demolition and bulk removal projects that are far more complex than this one. The professional contractors on this project are more than equipped to manage the project. Unfortunately, they have been hindered by not only dangerous and unnecessary delays in the permitting process, but more importantly, timely access to SWACO.

According to multiple news reports, the contractor received an Emergency Permit from the Ohio EPA to begin removal but was still waiting – ten days after the fire – for a local City Permit to begin work. The more critical issue here that slowed demolition was the contractor’s inconsistent and limited access to SWACO – our local landfill. In this case, with this sort of waste, SWACO’s hours are more limited than normal hours. While understanding SWACO has rules and regulations in place to protect the environment, including daily soil capping, extending their operating hours in emergency situations such as this would have allowed for faster removal of the debris from the community.

Government entities across the board need to work more closely together for pragmatic solutions to situations such as this to protect our businesses and communities. Between city, regional and state resources, there are plenty of tools to address disasters such as this. Unfortunately in this case, it appears no one was available to unlock the toolbox.

I urge the Franklin County Commissioners, the SWACO Board and other interested parties to consider extending the emergency hours at SWACO during situations that require immediate removal so as to prevent lengthy delays that end up impacting taxpayer’s quality of life. Additionally, I am hopeful that the City of Columbus, Franklin County and the State of Ohio are beating down the owner’s door to help the company get back on their feet as soon as possible.

– John Rush
President / CEO – Clean Turn

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