Land Revitalization Spring '07 Newsletter – Charleston, WV Narrows the Field of Petro Sites for Reuse
Urban Site Targeted for Public Park
The City of Charleston is systemically "visiting" all of its possible petroleum-contaminated sites, 461 in all, to narrow the field down to six sites for redevelopment. So far, the field has been narrowed to 49. Eighteen have been designated priority sites for Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs).
The City used an EPA Brownfields grant to hire an environmental engineering firm, Thrasher Environmental, to identify the locations of former gas stations, auto dealers and auto repair shops across the city. Thrasher created a unique, interactive mapping system, which incorporates current aerial photographs of the city and pinpoints each of the 461 sites.
By clicking on any point, users can access an easy-to-use database which contains information such as the historic use of the property -- based on Sanborn fire insurance maps dating back to 1933 - current use of the property, a current photo, census and minority population data, location within Urban Renewal Areas, status of petroleum storage tanks, etc. The interactive mapping tool allows users to see the site individually and how it relates to the city as a whole.
After the 461 sites were plotted, three public meetings were held and the community showed its support for the project by adding their recollections of changes in street patterns and addresses over the years. Thirty-five sites were identified as having the highest potential for redevelopment. The Brownfields inventory was turned over to a City Council committee to choose the most eligible sites for redevelopment. The goal was to find a dozen or so promising sites and perform ESAs.
Soil and groundwater samples will be collected and tested to see whether cleanup would be needed and if so, to what extent. The City hopes to work with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to identify additional funds to prepare sites for redevelopment.
A leading contender for one redevelopment is a three-acre, city-owned site in downtown Charleston. The blighted property has been vacant for nearly 70 years and is frequented by much of the city's homeless population. It is potentially contaminated as a result of the past uses of adjoining properties. A Phase I ESA will be performed on this site in conjunction with another property destined to become a parking area for a park.
Researching potential sites was a major portion of the grant work. While not all sites identified can be addressed under the current grant, the City now has a good inventory of former petro sites for consideration in the future.
Article contributed by David Iacono, EPA
& Katie Copenhaver, Thrasher Engineering