Reuse of old stadium site closer

WEIRTON – The former Jimmy Carey Stadium property in downtown Weirton is one step closer to redevelopment, according to officials with the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle. During the recent West Virginia Brownfield Conference, held Sept. 11 in Huntington, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Shawn Garvin announced the stadium property had been selected to receive funding toward a Targeted Brownfield Assessment; the fourth such assessment announced in West Virginia. “These funds provide a critical up-front service needed to jumpstart new projects,” said Bill D'Alesio, chairman of the BDC's board of directors. “With minimum local public investment, brownfield projects can result in can result in clean and affordable land for new developments, reduce neighborhood blight, generate tax revenues and create jobs. These USEPA funds will help the BDC realize a better economic and environmental future for the Northern Panhandle.” Article Photos     D'Alesio continued, saying the BDC and the Hancock County Commission recognized the need to redevelop such sites in the community. The commission originally purchased the stadium from the Hancock County Board of Education, and later entered into an agreement to sell the property to the BDC. A brownfield is considered an abandoned or underutilized property, which has not been redeveloped as a result of either real or perceived environmental barriers. Under the EPA's TBA program, a contractor will be hired for the BDC to perform a site assessment, develop cleanup options and cost estimates, and ensure the community has access to all findings. All four TBA's provided through the EPA are in the Northern Panhandle and currently owned by the BDC. In addition to the stadium property, other TBA sites include the former Taylor, Smith and Taylor Pottery site in Chester, the former Wheeling Corrugating site in Beech Bottom and the former Brooke Glass site in Wellsburg. “The regional concentration of four TBA's 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,” Patrick Kirby, executive director of the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center. “The successful award of four TBAs to Northern Panhandle projects speaks volumes about the hard work of the BDC and their local partners.” According to Weirton Mayor George Kondik, who also is a member of the BDC board, since the agency purchased the stadium from the commission in 2013, a Phase 1 environmental and site assessment of the property has been performed. In addition, a plan is being developed for the best future use of the site, and the BDC has begun working closely with various groups which have expressed interest in the property. “The diligent efforts of the BDC in working to enhance this former football stadium, and other properties they own and manage in Weirton are a huge part of revitalizing our downtown in general, and the city in particular,” Kondik said. In addition to the stadium, the BDC also owns or manages the Three Springs Business Park, the former Weirton Heights Volunteer fire station and several sites in the city's north end. Hancock County Commissioner, and BDC board member, Dan Greathouse said the grant could not have come at a better time. “The former Jimmy Carey Stadium is critical to stimulating development in Weirton's fourth ward,” Greathouse said. “The Hancock County Commission made it clear when we sold the former Memorial Stadium in Newell, former Jimmy Carey Stadium in Weirton, and the former Weirton Heights Volunteer Fire Department in Weirton to the BDC, we knew these properties would fit into their economic development agenda. This is great news coming on the tail end of the recent announcement that Chrysler will be purchasing the former Memorial Stadium in Newell. This grant simply keeps nudging the development of the former stadium forward.” Since 2008, the EPA has invested almost $750,000 in brownfield projects throughout Hancock and Brooke counties, according to BDC Executive Director Pat Ford. These grants have funded environmental assessments for more than 20 sites, and the cleanup of a site in Chester. Ford explained these investments have assisted in leveraging almost $25 million in private, public and philanthropic contributions in Beech Bottom, Wellsburg, Follansbee, Weirton, Newell and Chester.

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