Brownfield “dream teams” honored at Project Buzz event - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Brownfield “dream teams” honored at Project Buzz event

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A redevelopment program that uses a "dream team" approach to help West Virginia cities repurpose blighted industrial properties known as "brownfields" has awarded top projects for 2012 and selected projects for 2013.

The announcements were made at "Project Buzz," a two-day event held recently in Morgantown as an activity of the West Virginia Redevelopment Collaborative, or WVRC, a program of the Northern Brownfields Assistance Center at West Virginia University.

The WVRC uses a team approach to tackle obstacles involved in redeveloping brownfields. Experts from diverse backgrounds, including financing, landscape architecture and law, are brought in to assist in brownfield projects, forming what WVRC program coordinator Carrie Staton calls "dream teams." The teams are augmented by faculty members from West Virginia colleges and universities as well as by agency experts from the public and private sectors.

Faculty experts taking part in WVRC's program represent a wide spectrum of expertise and institutions including WVU, Alderson-Broaddus College, Fairmont State University, West Virginia Wesleyan College and West Liberty University. Service providers from the state Development Office and the Department of Environmental Protection and private consultants from the Mills Group also served on teams as experts in their fields.

Project Buzz gave 2012 teams the opportunity to be honored for their progress and the chance to present pictures and plans about the work they tackled over the past year.

The 2012 Collaborative Buzz Award was given to a team that worked in Wheeling to turn a former landfill into a recreational site. The award recognized the team's collaboration, progress and high level of community engagement.

On the second day of Project Buzz, seven West Virginia communities — Tralee, Wellsburg, Kimball, Richwood, Philippi, Parkersburg and Ronceverte — were matched with dream teams of faculty members and other experts to create redevelopment plans for projects. A competition was then held to determine which of the projects would be among four new projects to be funded by the WVRC in 2013.

Featured facilitators Chris Haddox of the WVU Division of Design & Merchandising and Jennifer Giovanitti of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond led community, faculty and agency participants through an intense day of redevelopment planning activities. At the end of the day, four brownfield redevelopment projects were selected to receive $5,000 grants and continued assistance from their dream team. The four winning projects are:

Brooke Glass Factory, Wellsburg

A former glass factory strategically located in downtown Wellsburg is recognized by city officials as their number one brownfield site.

The two-acre site, which includes a partially demolished building and additional open space, is located one block from City Hall and the Brooke County Courthouse and offers the potential for significant return on investment to the community. Wellsburg Mayor Sue Simonetti, John Brown of the Brooke-Hancock Regional Planning and Development Council, and Ryan Weld, chair of the Wellsburg Urban Redevelopment Authority, were matched with WVU's Andrew Vodden, a graduate student in public administration and law, and Christian Schaupp, associate professor of accounting, as well as Joseph Scarpaci, chair of the Department of Marketing and Management at West Liberty University and Patricia Hickman of the state DEP.

Wyoming County Industrial Park, Tralee

The site of a former lumber yard will be transformed into the Wyoming County Industrial Park.

This project will require site, remediation, marketing and infrastructure plans and more. When fully developed, the Industrial Park will provide jobs and growth for Wyoming County. To help achieve the goals on this project, Wyoming County EDA representative Morgan Findley and local realtor Sue Cline will work closely with Ken Ellison of the Department of Environmental Protection, Jennifer Weidhaas, assistant professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at WVU and Anna Withrow, a graduate research assistant at the Northern Brownfields Assistance Center and landscape architecture student.

Houston Company Store, Kimball

In McDowell County, a team will look at the restoration and revitalization of the Houston Company Store, which will become a centerpiece for the tourism industry in the county.

The building is currently vacant and in disrepair, with remediation complications that result from the presence of asbestos and lead-based paint.

Representatives from the McDowell County EDA and the McArts Fine Arts Organization will spend the next several months working with a team that includes Michael Mills, principal architect at the Mills Group, and Jamie Durant of the Bridgemont Sustainability Institute.

The restoration and use of this building will help to energize those who have been working for many years to keep this building from further decay.

Lewisburg Wholesale Building, Ronceverte

In Ronceverte, a multi-disciplinary team is exploring options to convert the Lewisburg Wholesale Building, located in the downtown area, into the Ronceverte Adventure Center with a mixed use of commercial, housing, and sports and recreational facilities.

The historic building has a rich history of many uses and, because of its age, is likely to have asbestos issues.

Local project champions Doug Hylton from the city of Ronceverte and Sally Baker and Sharon Schaefer from the Ronceverte Development Corp. will work with WVU faculty experts Peter Butler, assistant professor of landscape architecture, and Kudzayi Maumbe, assistant professor of recreation, parks, and tourism resources, as well as agency experts Jennifer Brennan of the State Historic Preservation Office and Joe Brouse of the Natural Capital Investment Fund.

Information about the WVRC and Northern WV Brownfield Assistance Center is available at www.wvredevelopment.org. The Northern WV Brownfields Assistance Center is located at the West Virginia Water Research Institute, a division of WVU's National Research Center for Coal and Energy.