Input Sought on Former Landfill

Wheeling residents have a virtually blank slate more than 100 acres in size for their ideas on repurposing a city landfill that has been closed for decades.

The city Department of Economic and Community Development is inviting residents to a public meeting from 4-6 p.m. Thursday at the Northern Panhandle Head Start building at 94 Finch Ave. to discuss the potential for reusing the former North Park Landfill as a recreational site. Representatives from GAI Consultants Inc., a Pittsburgh firm hired to help the city develop a plan for the site, also will be on hand for the meeting, according to city Community Development Specialist Melissa Thompson.

Thompson said the city received a $5,000 grant through the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center to engage the community, conduct a feasibility study and come up with a conceptual plan for the former landfill, which covers more than 100 acres.

Thompson said the old landfill actually is two separate sites, the older of which closed in 1984. She wasn’t sure when the newer of the two sites was shut down, but a sign posted at the entrance to the former landfill property states it was closed Sept. 30, 1994.

According to Thompson, residents of the North Park neighborhood have been pushing city officials to do something with the site. While the terrain is such that some of the site likely will never be developable, she said there are some flat areas – and it’s even possible some of the more rugged portions could be used for a hiking trail.

She said it was suggested several years ago that the site could be used for baseball fields, but Thompson said there may be residents who would like to see something completely different there.

“Maybe somebody out there has another good idea, or additional good ideas, so that’s kind of where we are right now,” said Thompson

According to Thompson, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection will be doing environmental cleanup at the site through its Landfill Closure Assistance Program. According to the DEP’s website, the program is funded by a special tax of $3.50 per ton imposed on the disposal of solid waste at any facility in the state.

There’s no specific timetable for this process, however, so Thompson said it could be several years before any type of redevelopment is seen at the site. She also said she’s not aware of any funds set aside by the city at this point toward completion of a project there.

Once the DEP finishes cleanup work at the landfill, Thompson said the next step likely would be to seek grants to develop the site – and having a definite vision for its future can be key in obtaining those funds.

“That type of visual document goes a long way with funding sources in showing them what your concept is,” she said.