Moundsville Brownfield Sites Are Identified

Written by Andrew Stacy on . Posted in Media, News

Unlike many cities where blight is concentrated in specific neighborhoods, Moundsville’s vacant and dilapidated buildings are spread throughout town, according to a study by the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center.

Luke Elser, the organization’s project manager, spoke before the city council at their meeting Tuesday evening to present their findings, joined with Rick Healy, from the Bel-O-Mar Regional Council. The majority of vacant buildings studied were in good to decent condition. Sixty were in poor condition, with just two being recommended for demolition.

The unique trait Moundsville had, Elser said, was its lack of a “bad neighborhood” where many buildings were in disrepair — rather, the identified structures were evenly spread throughout the city.

“We didn’t find any gigantic red flags with any one issue,” Elser said. “We found that these buildings were spread all over town. There were a couple of hot spots, but basically we found the things you’d expect in a typical West Virginian town. … The only different thing I’ve seen that we don’t see in other communities is that we don’t have a neighborhood in severe distress. This is a community-wide issue, as far as buildings that are chronically vacant or dilapidated.”

In particular, Elser identified several vacant structures in great shape that could be used to immediately house potential businesses. He urged the city to compile a list of buildings available for sale or lease, to entice both new businesses and residents to Moundsville.

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BDC Purchases Former Follansbee Steel Site for Future Redevelopment

Written by Staff Reporters, The Weirton Daily Times on . Posted in Media, News

FOLLANSBEE — The former Follansbee Steel location has been shuttered for four years, but it’s about to get a whole new look.

The Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle closed on the property for more than $1.3 million Thursday and have awarded a contract for the brownfield remediation assessment to Civil Environment Consultants of Export, Pa., according to BDC Executive Director Pat Ford.

Ford said the West Virginia Economic Development Authority granted a $1.3 million loan for the purchase and the Northern West Virginia Brownfield Assistance Center awarded a $12,500 grant for a boundary survey and Phase 1 environmental assessment required for the loan.

Jim Andreozzi, Brooke County Commissioner and BDC executive board member, said the site “has some environmental concerns and the BDC will undertake a process of remediating it. And now, we have an opportunity to put it back to use. For over four years, the site has been vacant. Now, we’re planning for an end use that will have people working on the site again. That has been the mission of the BDC and Brooke and Hancock county commissions over the past five years, to reclaim B.A.D. — brownfield, abandoned and dilapidated — properties, develop them and put people back to work on these properties.”

BDC and Brooke County officials visited the site Thursday to discuss future plans. Ford envisions selling parcels to two to three new businesses, possibly in the energy, metals or transportation industries.

“The reason why (the property) is so valuable to us — so valuable to the Northern Panhandle — is its access: river, rail and highway,” he said.

Follansbee City Manager John DeStefano said he was aware the purchase was pending and is pleased to hear it’s complete.

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Chester Talks Riverfront’s Future

Written by Andrew Stacy on . Posted in Media, News

CHESTER — Now that construction has begun on the Rock Springs Business Park, the city of Chester is getting some outside help with what to do with the rest of the riverfront.

About a dozen Chester officials, residents and business owners met Thursday with a team from the Pittsburgh-based nonprofit Riverlife to brainstorm about the riverfront’s future.

But first they came up with a list of words to describe the riverfront as it appears today — “sloppy,” “uninviting,” “inaccessible,” “underutilized,” “underappreciated,” “wild,” “green,” “beautiful,” “overgrown,” “steep” and “priceless.”

Then they answered two more questions: “How would you describe your ideal riverfront? What are the biggest impediments to riverfront development?” — and posted the words on a board.

“I’m really encouraged that half this board is positive. It speaks to what could happen in the future,” said Nina Chase, Riverlife senior project manager.

Chase and Riverlife Vice President Jay Sukernek said their goal was to leave Chester on Thursday with a list of next steps toward the implementation of a riverfront project.

“Trying to find out what works for the community is really important,” Sukernek said. “There’s a big difference between downtown Pittsburgh and downtown Chester.”

Some of the groundwork for such a project already has been laid, starting with the 2011 acquisition of the old Taylor, Smith & Taylor pottery site by the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle.

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West Virginia Brownfields Conference champions honored

Written by The State Journal on . Posted in Media, News

Communities across the state were recognized for their efforts to repurpose old industrial properties at the 11th annual West Virginia Brownfields Conference, hosted by the West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Centers in Charleston recently.

Patrick Kirby, executive director of the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center, said the awards “recognize individuals and communities who have made major contributions to the redevelopment of brownfields in West Virginia.” The term “brownfield” refers to property for which expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant.

The Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle was this year’s recipient of the West Virginia Brownfield Award in Economic Development, given to a project or community partner that has demonstrated excellence in economic development on one or more brownfield sites. The BDC has transformed formerly contaminated brownfields properties throughout the Northern Panhandle and has leveraged $69 million of private and public investment on brownfield redevelopment projects in Chester, Newell, Weirton, Wellsburg and Beech Bottom.

“After our initial acquisition of our first brownfield, the former Taylor, Smith and Taylor Pottery Factory in Chester, we saw more opportunities to repurpose overlooked abandoned properties for industrial and commercial uses,” said Mike Swartzmiller, Hancock County Commission president and BDC executive board member. “We see brownfields as the perfect chance to revitalize and reuse properties in northern panhandle communities. Today, brownfields in Brooke and Hancock counties are home to over two dozen businesses.”

Also on hand at the awards ceremony was George Heines, chairman of the Brick Yard Bend Revitalization Group in New Cumberland, who credited community members and other organizations with which the BDC has partnered in recent years on its various projects. Those partnerships, he said, have helped many of the local projects move forward, providing funding for planning, marketing and cleanup, as well as opportunities to invest in abandoned properties.

“The award is more a reflection of the work of the people behind the scenes — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, Northern Brownfields Assistance Center, Claude W. Benedum Foundation, elected officials and all the volunteers — who commit the time in our task force meetings to identify, acquire, clean up and develop these abandoned properties,” BDC Executive Director Pat Ford said, pointing out some of the BDC’s ongoing efforts are projects in Chester with the former Taylor, Smith and Taylor pottery, the former Brooke Glass in Wellsburg, the former Wheeling Corrugating site in Beech Bottom, the Three Springs Business Park in Weirton and a historic lodge and former high school football field in Weirton.

Earlier this year, the BDC’s brownfield redevelopment efforts were featured in a new U.S. EPA-sponsored video for other economic development groups to use as a reference, and in 2015, the BDC received an Environmental Award for Excellence from the WVDEP for land revitalization and stewardship.

The Community Engagement award was presented to Van Voorhis Landing Kayak Launch Project, located on the former Quality Glass property in Monongalia County. The award recognizes the efforts of the Mon River Trails Conservancy and the Morgantown Area Paddlers to collaborate with more than 20 stakeholder organizations as well as the Morgantown community “to bring the final vision for the former Quality Glass brownfield site to life.”

WVBAC said the community raised some $40,000 in three months from 15 organizations and businesses, three small grants, 16 donations from private citizens and a special drawing. In the process, many volunteers were recruited to support the upkeep of the Van Voorhis Landing Facility. The launch will increase access to the Mon River Rail-Trail and Upper Mon Water Trail; increase parking for trail users and boaters; improve the rail-trail and water trail overall experience; further promote recreational opportunities in the area and bring new outdoor recreation business opportunities to surrounding communities, including star City, Morgantown and Port Marion, Pennsylvania.

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