Brownfield grant paperwork in push toward deadline

STEUBENVILLE – The region's first Ohio River-crossing brownfields grant application is on its way to completion, but needs a bit of editing before a hoped-for submission Tuesday. Pat Ford, executive director of the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle, explained the application for the $600,000 grant needs to be a 15-page submission to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He told the Brooke-Hancock Brownfields Task Force that the application contains much data and narratives and currently is down to about 22 pages. Mike Paprocki, executive director of the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission, which hosted the task force meeting in its offices downtown, is reviewing and editing the application. The actual dedline is Dec. 18, but Ford said he's been advised to get ready early. Ford said much of what's been done so far builds upon work by Mayor Domenick Mucci, who is director of the Jefferson County Regional Planning agency. Mucci and his agency were successful landing a $1 million brownfields assessment grant several years ago. The BDC also has obtained brownfields grants on its own for the two northernmost West Virginia counties. Article Photos APPLICATION PUSH — Pat Ford, executive director of the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle, explained Tuesday that the region’s application for a $600,000 brownfields grant needs to be done days ahead of a Dec. 18 application filing deadline. Ford provided his update during a meeting of the Brooke-Hancock Brownfields Task Force at the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission offices in downtown Steubenville, where officials from Jefferson County were in attendance. The application is being permitted for the three counties despite Jefferson County being in a different federal region than Hancock and Brooke counties. — Paul Giannamore   The new application is a new approach being allowed by the federal government that crosses the two federal administrative regions – Region 3, headquartered in Philadelphia for West Virginia, and Region 5, headquartered in Chicago. Mucci said the $1 million obtained in 2009 paid for 28 assessments on “brownfield” properties – former commercial or industrial sites that may need environmental remediation such as asbestos removal or soil cleanup before they can be re-used. Mucci said there were 14 Phase 2 assessments, which develop the estimates on the cleanup for a given property. He said some of the properties have been returned to good use, such as the former J&J Chevrolet site in Toronto that now is an office and warehouse for a regional energy services company. Ford said on the West Virginia side, there are targeted brownfield assessment grants for work in the area of the old Jimmy Carey Stadium. Paprocki emphasized the work there will involve the old school building and transporation center on the stadium site. Ford said environmental grants also are at work on the Williams Country Club site, involving asbestos and lead contamination in buildings and old petroleum tanks. There are active cleanup grants for the former Wheeling Corrugating site at Beech Bottom, at the former Brooke Glass factory in Wellsburg and at the TS&T site at Chester. Ford praised the work Mucci did on the successful 2009 grant and in recent grant applications for the area that were turned down. “We've all done everything that was supposed to be done up to this point, and we think there is nothing we can do to make this grant any stronger, but we have to get it all into 15 pages,” he said. In summarizing the grant status, Ford started out by praising Mucci's work on the brownfields grants. “Mayor, that was one impressive grant you wrote, and thank you for that. The challenge we face is that so much of it was so good, and a lot of the successes we had at the BDC, and the work Mike has done at BHJ, too, we've ended up taking the best of all three. It's at about 22 pages now but it needs to get to 15. We've got a lot of work to do over the next week. He said trying to decide which sets of socioeconomic data to use – Mucci's successful application and the BDC's successes use different data elements – as well as which sites to include is the main issue. “The challenge is for Mike (Paprocki) to use the right sets to tell the story among the three counties. We have to pack a lot of stuff into 15 pages,” he said. The grant needs at least five major sites to be included. The West Virignia sites include Genpak and a former school site in Wellsburg, the Newell Porcelain site and the AIR building in New Cumberland, and two sites from Jefferson County that need to be specified. Ford said the federal officials advised getting ready to file ahead of the Dec. 18 deadline. He said the application system is an online portal, and the feds anticipate receiving so many applications nationwide that the system could crash on the deadline. He said a system crash is said not to be a reasonable excuse for missing the deadline, according to the federal government. Mucci said when grant applications aren't successful, the Region 5 officials offer advice on what didn't work. He said last year, the grant application was nearly high enough in the scoring process to be awarded, but it had weaknesses including a lack of administrative capacity, which now is handled by having BHJ administer the grant. Paprocki is encouraged by the regional approach being permitted by the federal government. he said that's been done with highways for years. BHJ came into existence to handle federal highway planning dollars in the 1960s with the Federal Aid Highway Act system of funding projects. He said the FDA also allows crossing of the federal boundary between the administrative regions. “We would not like to visit the Ohio River s a boundary between us. We would like to visit it as something that unifies us,' Paprocki said.- See more at: