Local organizations brought to national legislature’s attention
by David Singer
NEWS9 IS EVERYWHERE — The Business Development Corporation and Brooke Hancock Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission were touted on Capitol Hill as examples of what can be done with money in the right hands.
Biddel Gas Compression, Arcelor Mittal and Pietro Fiorientini are the emerging success stories that have been propped on former Brownfield sites. Now, the process to rehab Brownfield sites may be getting easier, and faster.
“Actually, it’ll speed up two and a half times,” said Patrick Ford of the BDC.
Congressman David McKinely wants the bi-partisan Brownfield reauthorization to pass – the first time new grants would be authorized since 2006. He cited Pat Ford and the BDC as why that should happen.
“His business development corporation has already received $2.5 million in Brownfield grants and has leveraged those projects into $75 million in private sector money,” McKinley said.
Right now, the BDC is stymied on its frequent success.
“An applicant can only apply for three grants per cycle and you only get to apply once per year,” Ford said. “You can only apply for a maximum of $200,000 per clean up Grant.”
Passing the Brownfield Reauthorization Act would expand the grants to $500,000 and allow a group to apply three times.
“So now, if we’re applying for three grants, that’s $1.5 million,” Ford said. “So we basically, taken a cleanup project that might’ve taken three years and now we can do it in one year.”
The BHJ says some projects could have been saved if they acted sooner. The industrial building that burned in Wellsburg on September 11th was in the eyes of the BHJ.
“And now, it’s turned into more of a demolition project,” said Michael Paprocki, executive director of the BHJ. “And it’s a great example of what happens if a Brownfield area sits too long; what happens one they aren’t mitigated they become a public hazard where they become a place of congregation, a place of illicit activity.”
Paprocki sees the mention by Representative Mckinley as a challenge.
“To take these dark buildings, these dark spaces in our communities that were once vibrant places for manufacturing and bring them back to life,” Paprocki said.
The BDC and BHJ are now hoping the senate passes the full version of the bill, so that plans to help flip structures like those in Wellsburg don’t go up in flames.