Northern WV Brownfields Assistance Center helps Morgantown with assessment process

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February 10, 2015 by Tracy Novak, NRCCE

Julie Szymanek, CORE Environmental Services, maps blighted city areas suggested by residents with Mayor Jennifer Selin.

Julie Szymanek, CORE Environmental Services, mapped blighted city areas while Mayor Jennifer Selin discussed the process with residents.

Morgantown, W.Va.–  An abandoned meth lab and a creek spoiled by acid mine drainage were two of the blighted areas discussed by participants at a city brownfields assessment meeting.

The City of Morgantown’s Development Services Department held a meeting on Feb. 10, to start a discussion on how to spend a $200,000 brownfields hazardous assessment grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The public was invited to suggest local brownfields sites.

Patrick Kirby, director of the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistant Center at West Virginia University, presented a program overview and answered various questions such as the cost of revitalizing environmentally tainted sites.

“On more occasions than not, the contamination of a site is less than the community’s perception,” said Kirby. “The whole process relies on partnership and vision.”

Area resident discuss problems associated with abandoned meth labs which has be come so prevalent across the U.S. that the term "methfields" has been coined.

During the meeting. the issue of an abandoned meth lab was raised by a local builder.  This problem has become so prevalent in the U.S. the term “methfields” has been coined.

Sean Garrigan, a revitalization consultant on the project from Stromberg, Garrigan & Associates added, “What you plan to do with a site also determines how much it’s going to cost to redevelop it.  For example it will cost less to reclaim a site for a parking lot than if you are going to put a playground there.”

“By the end of this assessment process we will hand the city a real game plan on how to get it done,” said Garrigan.

Participants pointed to stretches along University Avenue, Deckers Creek, and property once used as an illegal meth lab.  Residents continued adding to the list by marking sites on a large city map.

“We will continue to request input from local residents by using social media and holding additional meetings,”  said Dave Bott, Morgantown Community Development. “We’re hoping this is the beginning of an ongoing process to get some of the brownfield areas in Morgantown back in use.”


CONTACT: Patrick Kirby; Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center, 304.293.6984;

The Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center is a program of the West Virginia Water Research Institute at WVU’s National Research Center for Coal and Energy.