EPA selects WV redevelopment grant recipients - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

EPA selects WV redevelopment grant recipients

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Photo courtesy Green Rivers. Mayor of Thomas, Matt Quattro, and other stakeholders look at the Thomas riverfront that will be assessed using the grant. Photo courtesy Green Rivers. Mayor of Thomas, Matt Quattro, and other stakeholders look at the Thomas riverfront that will be assessed using the grant.
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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has selected five West Virginia communities and organizations as 2014 Brownfields grant recipients.

The EPA handed out 264 grants to 171 communities, totaling $67 million in Brownfields funding for cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated properties, to boost local economies and leverage jobs while protecting public health and the environment.

“Not only are these funds protecting the environment and public health by helping communities clean up blighted toxic waste sites, there are new job growth opportunities for local economies to leverage through these investments,” Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator, said in a news release. “With cities looking at how to combat the impacts of climate change, it’s more important than ever for communities to innovate new ways to retrofit formerly polluted sites into assets for the community.”

In West Virginia, the recipients included the cities of Thomas and Morgantown, the Economic Development Authorities in Wayne and Wyoming counties, and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

Of those five, Thomas, Morgantown and the Wayne County Economic Development Authority all received $200,000 assessment grants for hazardous substances. The grant will allow them to conduct several environmental site assessments and prepare up to give cleanup plans and conduct community outreach activities.

The City of Thomas and New Historic Thomas organizations worked for about three years with the Northern WV Brownfield Assistance Center in Morgantown to prepare for the grant application.

“I think Thomas recently has really been starting to thrive and we have a lot of redevelopment plans in the works,” said Emily Wilson-Hauger, AmeriCorps member for the non-profit community group New Historic Thomas. “The EPA was really impressed by the plan that the city has put together; they’re impressed by such a small town getting such momentum behind a plan for redevelopment.”

Wilson-Hauger said Thomas is a tourist town, so even though it has a small population, it hosts a lot of visitors.

“These assessments and future cleanup and development is not only vital for people who live here ... but for our visitors as well,” she said.