Flipping eyesores into assets: WVU brownfields team earns $1 million from EPA to revamp blighted sites

Monongalia

The Brownfields Assistance Center at WVU has received $1 million from the Environmental Protection Agency to provide expertise to communities on brownfields sites. A brownfield is property, such as the former Barboursville Brickyard (pictured), that is hindered from redevelopment or reuse due to the presence or perceived presence of a hazardous substance or contaminant. (Submitted photo)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – From abandoned coal mines to shuttered factories, the Brownfields Assistance Center at West Virginia University has helped communities resurrect once lifeless properties since 2006. 

Now, the Center plans on broadening its horizons through the help of new funding. With a boost from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the amount of $1 million, the Center will continue its mission to empower communities to transform brownfields — property hindered from redevelopment or reuse due to the presence or perceived presence of a hazardous substance or contaminant.  

Carrie Staton (WVU Photo)

This grant from EPA through the Technical Assistance to Brownfields or TAB Program will allow us to continue providing technical assistance in West Virginia, but also to start providing assistance outside of West Virginia in the rest of EPA’s Region Three, which includes West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and DC.

Carrie Staton – Interim Director, Brownfields Assistance Center at WVU

The ability to expand the Center’s services into new states and to also learn from other agencies in those states is “exciting”, Staton said.

The Center’s interim director said they have been working regionally with some of the states for the last few years and developed relationships with other states’ “some of which have long-standing, really strong growth programs and some of which don’t have as much brownfield activity as the others”.

However, they haven’t been able to take the lessons learned in West Virginia and apply them to other states.

“We hope that we can do something similar to what we did in West Virginia, which is to build that awareness and understanding of Brownfields and start to help communities and organizations redevelop those sites for the greater good.” 

If you are interested in learning more about what the Center does or getting in contact to find some assistance with a brownfield project, Staton said she encourages everyone to visit their website.

There, you’ll find all the contact information you need, even information on a “sister center” at Marshall University.

“We work really closely together, but we go where we are asked to go,” Staton said. “There’s plenty of brownfields to be done in West Virginia, but we want to make sure that we are following local community leaders. And so, we are excited to go as many places as our bandwidth allows, but the best way to get started is to check out our website and you’ll find all of our contact information and we can get you to the right folks, either on our team or on a partner team that is the best fit for the project.”

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