Beckley Common Council transferred the deed of the former Beckley landfill under New Jersey Avenue to the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority.
Council voted on second reading at a special meeting Monday to allow the development authority to have the deed of about 20 acres in the Piney Creek Gorge. The NRGRDA will apply for a federal brownfield grant, which will be used to clean up the acreage. Then the organization will transfer the deed to the town of Beckley.
The city’s goal is to clean up the site for the construction of a parking lot for a recreational site that will eventually be built around the ruins of the historic Alfred Beckley Mill.
“Personal opinion is historic,” Beckley Mayor Rob Rappold said on Monday.
Ward 1 Councilor Tom Sopher, who envisioned the factory project, praised NRGRDA General Manager Jina Belcher for her efforts in starting the environmental cleanup.
“It’s a good day,” Sopher said. “The Beckley Mill committee worked hard to get to a place where it was possible.
“Jina and her team took what we did to the next step in the process.
“When you reclaim brownfield land for the public good, everyone wins,” he added. “From the bottom of my heart, I couldn’t be happier.”
The landfill had been active until the 1960s, Rappold said last week. For a period of 30 to 40 years, residents and sanitation companies dumped garbage on the hill.
The site is near a stretch of land that the Town of Beckley and the NRGRDA are working to turn into a “gateway” to the New River Gorge. The project will include trails, visitor center, park, outdoor amphitheater and other amenities to be built around the historic ruins of the Alfred Beckley Mill.
NRGRDA Executive Director Jina Belcher recently requested congressional funds to start the first phase of the project, which amounts to around $ 8 million.
Under federal subsidy guidelines, an entity that creates an environmental risk cannot collect money for its cleanup. While the dumps are handed over to the NRGRDA, the NRGRDA will apply for a brownfield grant and have the land cleared so that the town of Beckley can build a parking lot for the future visitor center, park and other recreational facilities.
“For years, the town of Beckley has envisioned a solid project at the official landfill,” Belcher said Monday. “Due to the need for remediation, the project ideas could not materialize.
“Under the supervision of the Town of Beckley and the vision of City Councilor Tom Sopher, the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority has agreed to assume ownership of the former Beckley landfill site to lead a proposal to clean up the landfill. brownfields from the EPA for the affected property.
“Due to the energy around the outdoor industry and the support of the Town of Beckley to further develop a recreational landmark for the area, the NRGRDA supports the end-use idea presented for the property and will continue to help play a role that brings the community’s vision to life, ”Belcher said.
She added that a Phase I Environmental Assessment (SEA) was completed for the property in August 2016, followed by a Phase II SEA, completed in June 2017.
An updated Phase I ESA was completed in November 2021, Belcher said.
Council held the first vote on November 22 at a special meeting and held the public hearing and second reading on Monday at a second special session. The process has been expedited as the deadline to apply for Brownfields funds is Wednesday, December 1.