Making BAD Buildings Good Again: West Virginia communities display best efforts to tackle dilapidated building issues

Written by Darlene J. Swiger, The Exponent Telegram on . Posted in Media, News

Though West Virginia is known for its peaceful and serene country scenery, nestled in several of its mountains are communities fighting blighted and dilapidated structures that significantly damage that pristine image.

“Honestly, it’s been an issue for a long time,” said Luke Elser, project manager of the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center at West Virginia University. “In West Virginia, it feels like a lot of communities and the citizens themselves have begun to address this by saying, ‘This problem needs to be solved, and we need to solve it as a community.’”

Elser feels optimistic West Virginia’s communities are moving in the right direction.

“There is rehab happening all over the state,” he said. “Each community is approaching it differently. The solutions that may work in Charleston might not work in the Northern Panhandle or other parts of the state.”

Broadening Spectrum

Previously, the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center focused its efforts on brownfield sites that once housed commercial properties, abandoned glass factories and other environmental hazards. However, the center has since broadened the spectrum of blighted properties it services.“We’ve been working with these communities to look at revitalization of these dilapidated buildings, looking at residential and commercial properties in the dilapidated downtown areas,” Elser said. “We’re working on removing the worst, most dangerous structures, working to fix the ones that we don’t have to tear down, so that we get the vacant properties back to a productive use.”To do so, the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center started a BAD (Blighted, Abandoned and Dilapidated) Buildings program.

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The Mon River: A Regional Recreational Asset

Written by Power of 32 Staff on . Posted in Media, News

Years ago the Mon River Valley was dotted with bustling communities filled with the soot and fire of the coal and coke era. Today, the residents of the towns along the Monongahela River are looking at that water corridor with new eyes. River towns are offering residents and visitors access to this waterway for outdoor recreation and launching businesses that support the emerging river recreation.

Leading the effort is the Mon River Valley Coalition (MRVC), an outgrowth of the River Town Program, launched in 2011 by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) to help communities recognize the river as an asset for community and economic development.

The MRVC got started when a group of civic and municipal leaders from Mon River communities graduated from the three-year River Town Program and wanted to continue working together. The Coalition was launched in 2013 and is now led by National Road Heritage Corridor director, Donna Holdorf, and River Town Program director, Cathy McCollom. Twenty communities bordering the Monongahela River now participate.

According to Cathy McCollom, it’s the collaborative spirit of the people and organizations involved that have made the difference. “These are small towns and small communities,” she says, “but working together, they keep growing.”

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Save the date: West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Centers to host annual conference Sept. 12-14 in Morgantown

Written by Andrew Stacy on . Posted in Blog, Events, News

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The 2017 #WVBrownfields Conference, hosted by the West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Centers, will take place at the Erickson Alumni Center in Morgantown, W.Va. on Sept. 12-14.

The theme for this year’s conference is Ready, Set, Redevelop. Building on the success of last year’s inaugural Central Appalachian Regional Brownfields Summit, West Virginia will again host this regional event on Sept. 14.

The event kicks off on Sept. 12 with training for licensed remediation specialists, a grant writing workshop, and mobile workshops highlighting brownfields projects in Morgantown. The first full day of the conference, Sept. 13, will feature programming and sessions related to brownfield redevelopment in West Virginia. The second day, Sept. 14, will feature sessions covering regional brownfields topics impacting Central Appalachia.

This premier redevelopment event attracts over 250 stakeholders including economic development professionals, environmental professionals, real estate developers, lawyers, state and local officials, EPA and other federal officials, entrepreneurs, planners, bankers, investors, and community redevelopment professionals.

“Each year, our number of attendees has increased and this year should be no different,” said Patrick Kirby, director of the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center at West Virginia University.

“As a new part of the conference, we will host a “Women in Brownfields” gathering and for the second year in a row we will have pre-conference workshops and host the Central Appalachian Regional Brownfields Summit. The opportunity to showcase the amazing work happening in West Virginia and other Central Appalachian states is something we take great pride in. The revitalization of brownfield properties is instrumental in our state and region’s future economic development.”

The conference is in its 12th year and has become a “can’t miss” event for the state’s redevelopment stakeholders. Last year, over 300 people registered for the event. The conference will feature exceptional educational programs covering all aspects of brownfields redevelopment including: deal structuring and financing, abandoned and dilapidated buildings, grant writing, media engagement, community action on brownfields, and much more.

More details including registration, sponsor and exhibitor information will be coming soon to www.wvbrownfields.org. Sign-up for our mailing list and get the latest updates straight to your inbox.

Shinnston Council moves forward with BAD buildings program

Written by Kirsten Reneau, Staff Writer, The Exponent Telegram on . Posted in Media, News

SHINNSTON — The city of Shinnston plans to take down another building on Pike Street as part of their BAD buildings program.

The BAD (Brownfields, Abandoned, Dilapidated) buildings is a program the city has been working on with help from the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center through West Virginia University.

City Council members unanimously granted their attorney, Trey Simmerman, permission to pursue legal action against the owner of a building that could be dangerous, Vice Mayor Pat Kovalck said, which took place at Monday’s meeting.

“We granted permission to pursue that because letters have not been returned, phone calls have not been returned, so we thought that we needed to go a different route and get this building taken care of,” Kovalck said.

Kovalck said that having this building is not only dangerous, but unfair to other residents of the area.

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