An old Beckley trash dump may soon become a site for economic development if grant funding is received.
During a special meeting of the Beckley Common Council on Monday, Nov. 29, council passed an ordinance that transfers the former trash dump property, near the historic Alfred Beckley Mill and down from New Jersey Avenue, to the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority (NRGRDA).
The reason for the property transfer is to allow those at NRGRDA to apply for an Environmental Protection Agency Brownsfields Clean Up Grant. The grant, if approved, will provide funding to remediate the land by removing pollutants and contaminants, according to city Attorney William File. Once remediation is complete, NRGRDA will transfer the property deed back to the city of Beckley for future development.
Council held the first reading regarding the land transfer during a special meeting on Nov. 22, and quickly planned the second and final reading so that NRGRDA could meet the Dec. 1 grant deadline.
Councilmember and local historian Tom Sopher expressed his excitement at both the clean-up of the site and its future use potential.
“It’s a really big deal to do something with the brownfields and Beckley should be really, really proud that we’re putting something together on top of a brownfield,” Sopher said. “We’ll get national recognition from this when this project is complete for sure.”
Executive Director of the NRGRDA, Jina Belcher, responded that those involved in the project are “happy to serve in this role for the city.”
She explained that during the recent NRGRDA Economic Outlook Summit the main topic of conversation was centered on outdoor economic development. She added that this remediation project falls in line with topics discussed and that she is confident they will receive the grant funding.
“I wouldn’t take on a landfill for any city,” Belcher quipped. She also said that there are a lot of people who stand behind the project and will ensure that grant funding is received.
“We do recognize that this has been a labor of love for many before us, so we are happy to finally get this across the finish line,” Belcher stated.
Beckley Mayor Rob Rappold added that “it’s historic for all of us.”