MOUNT VERNON — A $1.75 million gift from the Ariel Foundation enabled the Foundation Park Conservancy to purchase real estate parcels totaling 59.1 acres on the site of the former Pittsburgh Plate Glass plant. The conservancy plans to demolish and salvage material from most of the structures and develop the acreage, which adjoins the southern border of Foundation Park, according to Sam Barone, vice-president and spokesman for the organization.
Barone said the property also encompasses one of the remaining expanses of abandoned railroad right-of-way needed to complete the Heart of Ohio Trail, which originates in Centerburg. The HOOT will eventually merge with the Kokosing Gap Trail at the CA&C Depot (the former Station Break), which the conservancy is restoring as a Foundation Park gateway and midpoint destination along the Ohio River to Lake Erie trail system.
Thursday’s purchase of the former PPG site concludes nearly a year of negotiations between its multiple owners, lien holders and Foundation Park Conservancy. Attorney Kim Rose of Critchfield, Critchfield & Johnston Ltd. was the principal agent for the purchaser.
“Karen Buchwald Wright’s generosity will benefit our community not only today, but for generations to come,” said Jan Reynolds, Ariel Foundation director. “When you think about the philanthropic vision of the past 50 to 100 years, it is gratifying for the Ariel Foundation to be a part of a community that is looking to the next 50 to 100 years.”
While the Foundation Park Conservancy’s plans for developing the newly acquired park are extremely preliminary, Barone said some thought has been given to creating a space for family recreation that celebrates Mount Vernon’s proud industrial past. He indicated there is no plan to bring down the landmark PPG smoke stack, which is considered to be structurally sound. Conservancy board member Ted Schnormeier will be directing the design and development effort for the project.
Since PPG ceased operations in 1976, the complex has been used for a variety of industrial and warehousing purposes. All current tenants of acquired buildings are scheduled to vacate by June 30, as part of the purchase agreement between the conservancy and former owners COIP Inc. and Budget Mini Storage Inc. Demolition of unoccupied structures is expected to begin within 60 days.