Jefferson County brownfield program earns award
STEUBENVILLE – Jefferson County received a Brownfields Recognition Award for leadership and commitment from U.S. EPA Region 5 at the 2013 National Brownfields Conference.
A brownfield is a site that has been abandoned or under-utilized, but has real or perceived contamination problems. Environmental studies and sometimes site cleanups are required before banks and other investors will participate in the sale or reuse of these properties.
The leadership award was a result of work Jefferson County did in conjunction with a three-year, $1 million U.S. EPA Brownfield Coalition Assessment grant started in 2009 and, after a grant extension, completed this year. The grant was administered by the county through its representative, the Jefferson County Regional Planning Commission.
The Commission then worked as part of a coalition made up of the city of Toronto, the city of Steubenville and the village of Mingo Junction to carry out the grant. In utilizing the U.S.EPA assessment grant, the coalition was able to complete nearly 40 environmental studies, which has led to some $1.3 million in state funding for site cleanups. Most importantly, at sites assessed though the brownfield grant more than 100 permanent jobs have been created with 100 more expected in the near term.
To build on this momentum, the public is invited to a discussion of resources to redevelop blighted properties from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on Thursday in the second floor community room at the Towers Building, 500 Market St. Besides a brief overview of the current status of the county brownfield program, JobsOhio regional representative Ed Looman will provide an update on that program. In addition, Monica Stefanoff of the state Development Services Administration Brownfield Incentive Programs and Marin Smith of the OEPA Targeted Brownfield program will discuss how their respective programs can be of assistance. There also will be a discussion of additional brownfield sites in Jefferson County. For reservations contact Rich Fender at (740) 283-8568 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Specific accomplishments related to the U.S. EPA Brownfield coalition grant include:
A portion of the former DiNovo’s property in Steubenville being leased to Louisiana-based Power Torque Services, a provider of equipment and services to the oil and gas industry. Power Torque has created 12 jobs with another 12 expected in the near future. All of the PTS hiring is expected to be done locally.
Express Energy Services, a Houston-based supplier to the shale-gas energy industry leased the former J&J dealership property in Toronto in April 2012; this move created 30 to 35 jobs and could grow to more than 100.
Redeveloping the former RG Steel property for use as a metal recycling center and bi-modal transportation hub and industrial park has resulted in 40-plus temporary jobs and 50 full-time jobs and is expected to generate another 100-plus jobs when redevelopment is complete.
In addition to employment, the U.S. EPA Coalition Brownfield grant made it possible to secure the following funding opportunities:
The Coalition was awarded a State of Ohio Brownfield grant of $299,571 for an environmental site assessment that entailed soil and water sampling activities at the Kaul Clay property in Toronto.
Steubenville was awarded $96,700 in state funding for asbestos abatement at the Grand Theater property in Steubenville, which is being restored as a historic theater and cultural center.
Steubenville also received a $1 million brownfield grant through the Clean Ohio Assistance Fund for asbestos abatement and demolition at the blast furnace of the former RG steel site. The city has partnered with River Rail Development, which has committed $5 million to redeveloping the former steel manufacturing facility. The Coalition kicked off the assessment and redevelopment activities by funding an asbestos assessment.
Additionally, the city of Steubenville secured a Neighborhood Stabilization Grant for $239,550 for a former nursing home property in Steubenville. These funds were used to remove blight from the community by performing asbestos abatement activities and demolishing the existing structure to make the site redevelopment ready.
To achieve these results the Jefferson County Regional Planning Commission worked with the Brownfields Task Force, which is made up of organizations such the Coalition, the county health department, the county Community Action Council and the county Soil and Water Conservation District.
The overall process of selecting sites for assessment studies started with an initial inventory of brownfield sites identified though Coalition members, the Brownfields Task Force, the county economic development program and public meetings. Properties were then prioritized by commercial/industrial redevelopment and job creation potential. In addition, the Coalition also identified several properties of community-wide value for site assessments, such as the historic Grand Theater in Steubenville.
The Coalition will apply for a $600,000 USEPA Brownfield assessment grant in November.
For information about Brownfield funding opportunities and other incentives that may be available to assist with Brownfield revitalization, register by calling Rich Fender at (740) 283-8568 or e-mail email@example.com.