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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Early bird registration deadline approaching for 2016 #WV Brownfields Conference

Written by Andrew Stacy on . Posted in Events, News

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Centers are reminding those interested in attending the 2016 #WVBrownfields Conference that early registration is available through August 5, 2016.

Kicking off this year’s conference is Ric Cavender, executive director for Charleston Main Streets. Charleston Main Streets is an administrative collaborative comprised of East End Main Street and West Side Main Street in Charleston, W.Va. Cavender is excited to bring this statewide event to Charleston and showcase some of the outstanding work on brownfield redevelopment being done in the Kanawha Valley.

“We are absolutely honored to host the West Virginia Brownfields Conference in Charleston and happy to share our economic and community development successes and challenges while learning from so many people throughout the state,” said Cavender.

“We at Charleston Main Streets understand the importance of effective partnerships and collaboration to work toward the ultimate goal of district redevelopment. We’re excited to learn new methods and practices for making cities and towns throughout our state unique destinations and are happy the Brownfields Assistance Centers share this vision with us. We look forward to seeing you in the Capital City!”

The West Virginia Brownfields Conference is the state’s premier redevelopment event. The 2016 conference will feature programming and sessions related to brownfield redevelopment in West Virginia, including project financing and deal structuring, downtown redevelopment, community engagement, specialty training on remediation, networking receptions, and the inaugural Central Appalachian Regional Brownfields Summit on Sept. 8, which will feature sessions covering regional brownfields topics impacting Central Appalachia.

The two-day event will be held September 7-8 at the Charleston Marriott Town Center in Charleston, W.Va.

This event attracts over 200 stakeholders including economic development professionals, real estate developers, lawyers, federal, state and local officials, environmental professionals, entrepreneurs, planners, bankers, investors, and community redevelopment professionals.

“This year’s event is shaping up to be the best yet,” said Patrick Kirby, director of the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center at West Virginia University. “Whether you’re a small community in West Virginia looking to get started on the redevelopment puzzle or you’re a community that has tackled several brownfield projects, there will be something for everyone at this year’s conference.”

For more information, to register, and to consider becoming a sponsor or exhibitor for the 2016 West Virginia Brownfields Conference, visit www.wvbrownfields.org/2016-conference/.

-WVU-

As7/20/2016

Contact: Andrew Stacy, West Virginia Water Research Institute
304.293.7085, astacy@mail.wvu.edu

Volunteers Needed To Help West Virginia Flood Victims

Written by Volunteer WV on . Posted in Media, News

Local flood response organizers are reporting an urgent need for volunteers to help with flood cleanup efforts over the next 10 days.

According to Volunteer West Virginia Executive Director Heather Foster, more than 1,000 homeowners have reported needing cleanup and recovery assistance, primarily in Kanawha, Clay, Greenbrier and Nicholas counties.

“Immediately after the flood we had a huge number of people putting their hand up to help, which was so inspiring,” Foster said. “Now is a critical time to maintain that momentum.”

To volunteer, all individuals and groups are encouraged to simply report to the Volunteer Reception Center nearest them. Groups of 10 or more should call in advance so the center can prepare work assignments. If you registered online and haven’t received a call to volunteer, please report directly to the nearest reception center for an assignment.

A complete list of Volunteer Reception Centers is found at wvflood.com/volunteer

Foster said AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams arrived in West Virginia this week from neighboring states, and are waiting and prepared to process the large number of volunteers needed to help flooded communities, clean out and repair damaged buildings, and provide displaced residents with adequate shelter.

She said the next 7 to 10 days is a critical window for those communities, before those AmeriCorps teams finished their deployment and returned home.

“You know, the national media has gone home, the spotlight of public attention has started to fade, but the disaster of the situation for people in these communities is as real as ever,” Foster said. “We still have people without homes, people who have lost everything, people who need food and shelter.” “The need for volunteers to help these fellow West Virginians is immediate and urgent. If you can volunteer, please do. You are needed, you will be put to work, and you will make a difference.”

Clubs, work teams, sports teams, church groups and all forms of community groups are encouraged to volunteer together.

“Get a group of friends together, come as a family team, the more people you can bring the bigger the impact you will have,” Foster said.

Volunteers that can do moderate to heavy manual labor are particularly sought after.

Special volunteer equipment needs include:
• Work boots
• Heavy duty gloves
• Tyvek (coverall) suits
• N100 particulate respirator masks
• Flathead shovels
• Rakes
• Long pants
• Bug spray

Volunteers who can bring all or any of these items are urged to do so.

For information about how to volunteer, visit wvflood.com/volunteer

Communities uniting to revitalize the UKV

Written by Bill Frye for the Montgomery Herald on . Posted in Media, News

Officials and concerned residents from three Fayette County communities turned out Thursday afternoon for a meeting to discuss revitalization efforts for the Upper Kanawha Valley.

Representatives from Smithers, Montgomery and Gauley Bridge listened to speakers and discussed how they can approach dilapidated buildings to bring new life to their communities by cleaning up the blight or repurposing it for new growth.

Facilitated by the Fayette County Resource Coordinator’s office, the meeting featured speakers from across the state who have experience in helping communities with their dilapidated buildings.

Speakers included Tighe Bullock from Charleston’s West Side Main Street program; Luke Elser, program manager for the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center; Katherine Garvey, director of the West Virginia University Land Use Law Clinic; Kate Greene, program manager for the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center; and Nicole Marrocco, coordinator for the Abandoned Property Coalition/WVHUB.

Gabriel Peña, Fayette County assistant resource coordinator, said the program for the three communities was part of a flex-e-grant through the West Virginia Development Office.

With the grant committees, Smithers, Montgomery and Gauley Bridge will be able to apply for resources to demolish or redevelop dilapidated structures in their communities.

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