Grant to aid in business park development

ASSESSING THE SITUATION — Two U.S. Environmental Protection Agency contractors from the Wheeling-based TechLaw, left, speak with Marvin Six, assistant director of the Business Development Corp., and Joe Nowak, U.S. EPA Region 3 Brownfields & Revitalization Branch in the area of the Three Springs Business Park. -- Contributed

WEIRTON — As a result of a new federal grant, local officials will be able to learn more about the condition of the land set for future development opportunities within the Three Springs Business Park.

The Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle, on Wednesday, announced the awarding of $60,000 in Targeted Brownfields Assistance funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The BDC, in collaboration with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, will use the funding the investigate the history, through research and the testing of soil samples, of the 72 acres of property along Three Springs Drive.

“The assistance of the USEPA and WVDEP will help our investment group fulfill a commitment we made to this community to reclaim this former strip mine and weave this site back into our community as an employment generator,” said Eric Frankovitch, of Park Drive Development LLC.

According to BDC Executive Director Patrick Ford, this TBA is necessary to make way for business recruitment and conventional financing.

“The TBA program has been instrumental in providing security to businesses and industries looking to invest in the northern panhandle,” said Ford. “A $50 million investment on this Park Drive property, that we anticipate creating over 600 jobs, will require financing at various stages of the phased development and the findings of this targeted brownfields assistance will be instrumental in securing future businesses and industries on this site.”

The purpose of a TBA is to minimize the uncertainties surrounding an abandoned or under-used industrial or commercial site where redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination.

The environmental assessments, performed under a TBA, are conducted by a USEPA contractor. Services include site assessments, remediation options, and cost estimates. The TBA program helps municipalities and non-profits redevelop contaminated parcels.

“The regional concentration of six TBAs in the Northern Panhandle illustrates the economic opportunities in the northern panhandle and commitment of our local leaders to pursue all funding opportunities,” said Patrick Kirby, executive director of the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center.”

The U.S. EPA has invested more than $3 million in brownfields projects throughout Brooke and Hancock counties since 2009. These USEPA grants have funded environmental assessments for over two dozen sites in Brooke and Hancock counties and the cleanup of multiple sites in the Northern Panhandle.

According to the BDC, the EPA’s investments have leveraged over $160 million in private, public and philanthropic investments in Beech Bottom, Wellsburg, Follansbee, Weirton, Newell and Chester.