Old Weir High stadium to benefit from US EPA brownfields assessment funding

The old Jimmy Carey stadium in downtown Weirton, WV is the fourth Northern Panhandle property to benefit from federal funds targeted for brownfields assessments, local leaders report.Brownfields are abandoned or underutilized properties that haven't been redeveloped due to real or perceived environmental barriers. Under its Targeted Brownfields Assessment Program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hires a contractor to perform the site assessments, develop cleanup options and cost estimates and ensure the community has access to the findings.In making the announcement, Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin said brownfields restoration is “spurring economic development, revitalizing communities and protecting people's health and our environment here in West Virginia and across the country.” He said the success of brownfield redevelopment projects is based on strong local leadership, community support, vision, persistence, flexibility and innovation, sustainability, and the ability to leverage additional investment.EPA previously awarded TBA funds for work at the old Taylor, Smith & Taylor pottery in Chester, the former Wheeling Corrugating plant in Beech Bottom and the former Brooke Glass in Wellsburg.All four are owned by the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle.“The regional concentration of four TBAs in the northern panhandle is an unprecedented success illustrating the strength of our projects and commitment of our local leaders to pursue all funding opportunities,” said Patrick Kirby, Executive Director of the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center. “(It) speaks volumes about the hard work of the BDC and their local partners.”BDC Chair Bill D'Alesio said the TBA funding provides “ a critical up-front service needed to jump start new projects.”“With minimum local public investment, brownfield projects can result in clean and affordable land for new developments, reduce neighborhood blight, generate tax revenues, and create jobs,” said D'Alesio, who is a vice president at United Bank. “These USEPA funds will help the BDC realize a better economic and environmental future for the northern panhandle. The Hancock County Commissioners recognized this need for public assistance to redevelop brownfields in our community when they sold us (the stadium) property.”To date, USEPA has invested nearly $750,000 in brownfields projects in the state's two northernmost counties since 2008. These USEPA grants have funded environmental assessments for over 20 sites in Brooke and Hancock counties and the cleanup of the Taylor, Smith & Taylor property in Chester. The USEPA's investment has leveraged almost $25 million in private, public, and philanthropic investment in Beech Bottom, Wellsburg, Follansbee, Weirton, Newell, and Chester.“These brownfields grants demonstrate the positive impact a small investment of federal funding can have on community redevelopment through leveraging public and private investment, improving the health and safety of our community, boosting our local economy, and job creation,” BDC Executive Director Pat Ford added. “Funding provided by EPA's Brownfields program is an important asset for the BDC and our partners to get underutilized and blighted properties assessed, cleaned up, and back into productive use.”