Wellsburg board to seek brownfield grant

WELLSBURG – The city’s urban development authority is taking another step in its efforts to put to use vacant property once occupied by industries and other businesses.

The board is applying for a $200,000 communitywide hazardous materials assessment grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Derek Springston of the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center was on hand for a public hearing Tuesday to explain how the grant may be used.

Springston said depending on the amount awarded, the grant may be used to conduct Phase 1 or Phase 2 environmental assessments of brownfields in the city.

Brownfields are former industrial and business sites whose future use is hindered by perceived or real contamination problems.

Springston said Phase 1 assessments involve identifying potential contaminants based on the site’s past use, while Phase 2 assessments attempt to confirm the presence of contaminants, the degree of contamination and an estimate of the cleanup’s cost.

“It’s not for a cleanup but it gets you that much closer,” he said.

Springston said the grant requires no local match and the amount is the most the city may seek through the EPA program. He said if approved, the grant will be awarded in October.

City Manager Mark Henne noted public and private grants were secured for initial assessments of the Brooke Glass and Mammoth Plastics/Genpak sites and additional funds are being sought for further studies there.

A $45,000 federal grant was secured by BHJ for an assessment of the former Banner Fiberboard site now occupied by Eagle Manufacturing’s 40,000-square-foot warehouse facility.

An $81,000 cleanup of the site was funded by the site’s previous owner, RDS Industrial.

Henne told the urban redevelopment authority a pre-construction meeting will be held soon for a traffic signal project near the Eagle site.

Plans call for a traffic signal to be installed at the intersection of state Route 2 and 22nd Street to ease the flow of truck traffic into the warehouse site.

Signals north and south of the intersection at 27th and 16th streets also will be synchronized with the signal, and 22nd Street will be widened at the intersection to improve trucks’ ability to turn onto the street.

Henne said bids for the project twice came over the estimated cost and the project was awarded recently at a cost of about $525,000.

He noted the Brooke County Commission agreed to provide $100,000 from its economic development fund to offset the increased cost for the project.

The West Virginia Department of Transportation’s industrial access fund is the primary source of funding for the project.