Brownfields center awards $5,000 FOCUS grants to help towns improve blighted sites

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January 25, 2011 by Luke Elsner, Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center

Morgantown, W.Va. — West Virginia communities, from Chester in the northern panhandle to Itmann in the southern coalfields, will be creating plans to redevelop dilapidated and abandoned former industrial locations known as “brownfield sites” thanks to each winning $5,000 grants from the 2011 FOCUS WV Brownfields program.

“The FOCUS program allows the West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Centers at West Virginia University and Marshall University to provide financial and technical assistance to these communities to create redevelopment visions and overcome major obstacles in turning problem sites into community resources,” said Luke Elser, FOCUS WV Brownfields program manager at WVU.

FOCUS stands for Foundation for Overcoming Challenges and Utilizing Strengths. Funding for the program is provided by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation through the West Virginia University Foundation.

The winners, who will use the awards to create community-based revitalization plans, include:

  • Brooke-Hancock Regional Planning & Development Council, to conduct community visioning and stakeholder generation for the former TS&T Pottery site in Chester, WV
  • City of Fairmont, to kick start community visioning and conduct environmental assessments on the downtown Masonic Temple property on Jefferson Street
  • Fairmont Community Development Partnership, to conduct environmental and building assessments and build community support for the redevelopment of the Former Fairmont YMCA building on Fairmont Avenue
  • Monongalia County Solid Waste Authority, to gather crucial site data and hold community interest meetings in the redevelopment of the Morgantown Ordnance Works site in Westover into a county wide regional recycling center
  • Mount Hope Heritage and Hope, Inc., to engage the community in the planning for reuse of dilapidated and abandoned brownfield properties in the town, beginning with a downtown site for use as a pilot project to determine the feasibility of using these sites for residential dwellings to house families who lost residences to flooding along Dunloop Creek in recent years.
  • Upper Guyandotte Watershed Association, to assess the opportunity for redevelopment of the Old Itmann School through environmental assessment and community meetings
  • Upshur County Development Authority , to conduct environmental and building assessments and hold community visioning meetings to redevelop a historic downtown Buckhannon property

Information about the FOCUS WV Brownfields Program and Northern WV Brownfield Assistance Center can be found at

The Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center is located at the West Virginia Water Research Institute, a division of WVU’s National Research Center for Coal & Energy; the WV Brownfields Assistance Center at Marshall University is located in the Center for Environmental, Geotechnical and Applied Sciences.


CONTACT:    Luke Elser, (304) 293-6990

See also: WVUToday