Commissioners discuss new BDC projects

Commissioners discuss new BDC projects

WELLSBURG — Pat Ford, the executive director of the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle, updated the Brooke County Commission Thursday on projects being pursued by the economic development agency.

Ford said the BDC has advertised for a contractor to demolish and remove front and rear sections of the former Brooke Glass factory, which has been entered into the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Voluntary Remediation Program.

He said there were plans to raze the entire building, which is on Sixth Street near state Route 2, but the BDC since has learned a 30,000-square-foot brick section at the center can be saved.

Ford said there are plans to remove a 7,000 square foot section at the front used for office and warehouse space; and a 3,000 square foot section at the rear that was used for storage.

He noted the move will create additional parking space at the site.

Ford said the BDC has spent about $597,000 in environmental assessment and cleanup efforts at the site. That work has included the removal of hazardous materials used in the production of glass, including uranium and arsenic used to produce yellow and red glass.

He said Southwestern Energy is leasing space at the former Follansbee Steel site for mobile offices and the storage of materials for drilling operations elsewhere.

Ford said a drilling rig was used at the site recently to take core samples required for the BDC’s environmental remediation of the property, which it acquired in the fall of 2016.

Last year the Brooke County Board of Education hired the BDC to seek buyers for Follansbee and Wellsburg middle schools since they are slated to close when the county’s new middle school is completed this year.

Ford said environmental studies are being done to address asbestos that must be removed from the schools but he’s heard from prospective occupants for the buildings. There’s interest in using the Follansbee school for housing, office space and commercial use and in using the Wellsburg school for housing and office space.

Ford said both buildings have attractive locations, with the Follansbee school on state Route 2 and the Wellsburg school on property along the Ohio River.

Wellsburg Middle School is 69,212 square feet and sits on a 70,828-square-foot lot, while Follansbee Middle School and its athletic field house occupy 67,098 square feet of a 90,638-square-foot lot.