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Funding in Place for Demolition on 19th Street in Wheeling

Photo by Eric Ayres The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has approved funds for the asbestos abatement, environmental remediation and demolition of dilapidated warehouse buildings on 19th Street purchased by the city of Wheeling last year.

WHEELING — The City of Wheeling is getting some funding help from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to clear dilapidated warehouse buildings from the 19th Street property, which the city of Wheeling acquired last year.

City Manager Robert Herron reported to city council this week that the funding has been secured, and work should begin in the coming weeks to clean up environmental issues and raze the buildings. That came last Friday, he said.

In March, city council approved an ordinance authorizing Herron to enter into a contract for $449,888 with Reclaim Co. of Fairmont, The work has not yet proceeded, however, as city leaders were awaiting final approval from the state and federal Environmental Protection Agency offices for the brownfield and environmental remediation funding assistance.

“We had awarded the asbestos abatement and demolition contract for that project, but we had to put that on hold until the DEP ran everything through the Philadelphia U.S. EPA office,” Herron said. “That contract has now been released, and we do anticipate the remediation, asbestos abatement and demolition will begin here in the next few weeks. So that project is funded.”

Last year, city leaders had initially considered purchasing the nearly 4-acre site along 19th Street near Jacob Street for a potential new Public Safety Building. After the city purchased the former Ohio Valley Medical Center campus and designated the Valley Professional Building for the new Wheeling Police headquarters, council members still moved forward to buy the 19th Street property.

The intention was to clean up the eyesore that sits at the city’s main southern entrance to the downtown area and market it to the private sector as a flat piece of land in a prime location for development in a growing commercial area. The city’s likelihood to secure funds through the DEP’s Brownfields Revolving Loan program was a key factor in the city’s decision to purchase the property.

Americo Inc. sold the property to the city for $150,000, and it is expected to be valued at around $400,000 once the site is cleaned up, cleared and ready to return to the real estate market.

A resolution was approved by city council this week regarding the intention that the city will be reimbursed for any costs associated with environmental remediation on this project.

Prior to entering into the DEP Brownfields Revolving Loan agreement, money was spent on the project through capital expenditures paid through the city’s Sales Tax RCIP (Restricted Capital Improvement Program) Funds. So far, expenses for the project have been for environmental services and work to put together the environmental remediation plan that last week was approved by the DEP, Herron explained. According to the resolution, these reimbursable expenditures are not expected to exceed $174,555.20.

Herron explained that the grant/loan is 50/50 funding, with $174,555.20 coming as a grant and the same amount available as a loan.

“There will be ordinances before city council in June that will deal with repayment of the loan portion of that,” he said. “So we’re very pleased to have that moving forward.”

Additionally, the city is expected to provide around $89,000 in a local match for the project.

In other action this week, Herron announced that the second round of city-wide demolition projects for this fiscal year has been put out to bid, and a bid opening date is slated for May 19.

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