Brownfield group to stay in place

WEIRTON – Even though their brownfield assessment grant funding is nearly exhausted, Brooke-Hancock Brownfield Task Force members said Wednesday they want to continue to meet.

“We need to lay the groundwork, talk about how we can get more funding,” Wellsburg City Manager Mark Henne said at the meeting, held in the second floor conference room at the State Building in Weirton. “The issues are still there, we need to keep meeting.”

The current brownfield program expires in two months, and despite the successes they’ve achieved over the past few years, the group was denied federal funding to continue its assessment program in the upcoming grant round.

“We’ve been through non-funded years before,” pointed out Pat Kirby, executive director of the Northern West Virginia Brownfield Development Center.

Henne said they’ll have ongoing projects that will require follow-up – a list that includes Phase II assessments at the Mahan Lane site in Follansbee, which are nearly done, and Phase I work being done at the Jimmy Carey field maintenance building in Weirton, the Clark Field maintenance building in Newell and a still-to-be-started Phase I assessment at the old post office building in Weirton’s north end.

“The way I see it, this is a lead-in to economic development throughout the region,” Henne said.

Pat Ford, executive director of the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle, said it’s “a good idea to have people here to share the challenges they’ve encountered and success stories.”

Phase I and II environmental assessments already have been done at the Three Springs Drive business park, as well as the old Taylor, Smith & Taylor pottery site in Chester, which already has drawn significant interest, the Starvaggi Industries machine shop and the old Banner-Fibreboard property in Wellsburg. The Wellsburg property has been hailed as a “brownfield success story” since it’s been acquired by a neighboring company, Eagle Manufacturing, and is now the site of a multi-million dollar, job-creating expansion.

A Phase I assessment was completed at the 206-acre site of the Mountaineer Sand and Gravel property south of Newell, while Phase I and partial Phase II work has been done at Barkhust Construction property in New Cumberland.

Likewise, while a Phase I assessment at the Brooke Glass property in Wellsburg was done back in 2004, Ford said it needs to be updated as quickly as possible. An effort is being made to fund Phase II work to facilitate the property’s reuse.