A Step Toward Renewal

Written by Michelle Sloane for Renewal and Development Magazine on . Posted in Media, News

West Virginia towns take the steps toward renewal by addressing vacant properties

“They stopped thinking about it as me and started thinking about it as we.”

Two years ago, community members in Fairmont, West Va. decided to address the significant number of abandoned buildings in the city by forming a Brownfields, Abandoned, and Dilapidated (BAD) Buildings Team, supported with technical assistance from the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center (NBAC).

While City Planning Department staff spearheaded the effort, volunteer citizens surveyed 326 properties across 110 miles of city streets — on foot. After dividing the city by council districts, 18 volunteers walked the streets in pairs to document the conditions of abandoned and dilapidated properties via a 2-page survey per building.

Volunteers then compiled the survey information into a database and researched property owners within a month and a half. The inventory became a live document, as the team continues to update information about properties.

While many City Council members were initially against the creation of strong legal enforcement like a vacant property ordinance, the results of the volunteer-driven inventory process demonstrated the need to implement specific tools to tackle the dilapidated building situation. The city passed a Vacant Property Registration Ordinance and created tax credits rewarding vacant property rehabilitation.

Soon after establishing the Vacant Property Registration Program, Fairmont representatives met with counterparts from the city of Wheeling, West Va. to exchange insights and discuss similarities and differences between their programs. NBAC staff facilitated the meeting through the Redevelopment Expert Exchange program.

NBAC Accepting Applications for BAD Buildings Program Associate

Written by Andrew Stacy on . Posted in Job Opportunities, News

The West Virginia University Research Corporation (WVURC) seeks to hire a Program Associate in the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center at West Virginia University. This position performs various support duties related to the BAD Buildings Program, including helping communities establish sustainable community development initiatives that will enhance the well-being and quality of life for the people of WV, attracting investment to communities and maximizing resources in the state. This position facilitates the implementation of community development strategies on brownfields and abandoned and dilapidated properties, including coordinating stakeholder groups, project identification, project prioritization, site redevelopment plans, and pursuit of public and private sector funding opportunities.

Bachelor’s degree in public policy, public administration, political science, business/finance, environmental studies, or related disciplines; and 6 months – 2 years of project management experience; or an equivalent combination of education and experience. Experience in brownfield redevelopment, community development, and/or issues related to abandoned and dilapidated structures is preferred.

Competitive salary and benefits package offered. For a complete job description and to apply for this position, please view the job announcement.

AA/EOE/Minorities/Females/Vet/Disability/E-verify compliant employer

Ground Broken for New Business Park in Chester, WV

Written by Linda Harris, Legal Reporter, The State Journal on . Posted in Media, News

Construction officially began June 23 on a 30,000 square foot industrial building to anchor the new Rock Springs Business Park in Chester, WV.

Federal, state and local leaders gathered to break ground at the 8.5 acre site, once home to the Taylor, Smith & Taylor Pottery.

“This development will transform a once abandoned pottery factory site into a job-creator for Hancock County and the Ohio River Valley,” Hancock County Commissioner Mike Swartzmiller said. “The business park will also add much needed building inventory to our region to accommodate the economic growth in energy, transportation, and value-added metals.”

The property, a brownfields site, is owned by the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle. The organization has been able to drum up nearly $3.3 million in loans and grant funding for the acquisition, site cleanup and redevelopment.

The West Virginia Economic Development Authority and United Bank are financing construction of the building. BDC Executive Director Pat Ford said no tenant has been announced, but energy, chemical and value-added steel fabrication companies have shown interest in the site. He said a final decision is “probably still about three months off.”

Read the full article on The State Journal website.

West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Centers help secure more than $1.9 million in EPA funding

Written by Andrew Stacy on . Posted in Blog, News

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded more than $1.9 million in Brownfields grants to revitalize former industrial sites and promote economic development in West Virginia. With the assistance of the West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Centers, the state received 49 percent of the EPA grant funding awarded to the Mid-Atlantic region.

“We are thrilled to learn that West Virginia has once again done well in securing funding through the highly competitive EPA brownfield grants program,” said Patrick Kirby, director of the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center at West Virginia University.

“We know this investment from the EPA will help spark further investment from the public and private sectors. The West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Centers work hard to provide assistance to these communities and we look forward to seeing the positive results of these projects.”

The EPA Brownfield Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund and Cleanup grants go to communities that are underserved and economically disadvantaged, including neighborhoods where environmental cleanup and new jobs are most needed. In total, six West Virginia projects were awarded funding.

The Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle was awarded a Brownfield Coalition Assessment Grant totaling $600,000, the maximum award allowed. The Assessment grant will assist the BDC in the environmental assessment and repurposing of potentially contaminated properties in Brooke and Hancock counties in West Virginia and Jefferson County in Ohio. The BDC was also awarded $158,500 in EPA Clean-up Grants that will be used to repurpose two sites in Hancock County.

“The award of these grants is a recognition of the great work that the BDC is doing in the region,” said Kirby. “The BDC is a valued partner in our shared work to redevelop brownfields into economic development opportunities for the state and its citizens.”

The City of Thomas was awarded a $200,000 Clean-up Grant to help address the city’s riverfront property. The Wayne County Economic Development Authority was also awarded a $200,000 Clean-up grant to repurpose the former Kenova Grade School.

“The Wayne County EDA has had great success with its existing EPA brownfields assessment grant, including an environmental assessment of the former Kenova Elementary School facility,” said George Carico, director of the Brownfields Assistance Center at Marshall University.

“Now they have a cleanup grant for removal of asbestos-containing materials in the structure, so they can move forward with demolition of the structure, followed by redevelopment of the property. There’s been a great deal of interest in this site for future re-use, and this cleanup grant is the much-needed next step in the process.”

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection was awarded a highly competitive $820,000 EPA Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund Grant that will capitalize a West Virginia Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund and provide incentive for businesses to remediate brownfields in the Ohio Valley.

“The WVDEP’s Revolving Loan Fund Grant is a whole new aspect of brownfields redevelopment,” said Carico.

“This grant will help stimulate economic development in a twelve county region along the Ohio Valley. By combining funding for environmental assessment purposes and loans for cleanup of environmental impacts and related use, projects will be able to move forward with fewer hurdles.”

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