“Dream teams” featuring expertise from West Virginia University and other state institutions of higher education will be taking aim at improving abandoned or underutilized blighted properties as part of a new initiative called the WV Redevelopment Collaborative. The effort begins with a kick-off event that sponsors are calling “Extreme Makeover: Brownfields Edition.”
Brownfields are properties that sit undeveloped because of a variety of real or perceived environmental barriers. Examples of brownfields are former gas stations, glass factories, machine shops, manufacturing and processing facilities, dry cleaners and mine scarred lands that pepper communities across the state.
The West Virginia Redevelopment Collaborative is a new effort at The Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center at WVU funded by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. The new program is designed to use a team approach to tackle obstacles involved in redeveloping brownfields. Patrick Kirby, NBAC director, said the Collaborative process matches teams, composed of faculty experts, with community projects to develop a plan of action to move redevelopment forward.
“On December 2nd, The Redevelopment Collaborative will select its first four projects at the ‘Extreme Makeover: Brownfields Edition’ – a dynamic, participant driven event which emphasizes competition among community projects, similar to the experience of seeking funding and assistance in the real world,” Kirby explained.
Eight West Virginia communities – Chester, Moundsville, Wheeling, Osage, Fairmont, Berkeley Springs, Shinnston and Parkersburg – were invited to have their brownfields projects represented in the Extreme Makeover event. Four communities will then be selected to receive more than $20,000 in funding as well as the opportunity to collaborate with teams of professors and faculty who have expertise in a range of disciplines to help them toward their goals.
Participating academic disciplines include landscape architecture, business administration, public administration and law. Faculty from WVU, Marshall University, Concord University, Davis & Elkins College and other state institutions will compose the multi-disciplinary teams.
The co-hosts of the event, including the West Virginia Campus Compact, the West Virginia Community Development Hub, and the WVU Division of Design & Merchandising, illustrate the range of support for the collaborative model. Communities or others interested in learning more about the West Virginia Redevelopment Collaborative are encouraged to visit the Brownfields Assistance Center’s website at www.wvbrownfields.org, or contact Program Coordinator, Carrie Staton, via email at Carrie.Staton@mail.wvu.edu or call (304) 293-7071.
About WVU’s Northern WV Brownfields Assistance Center: The Northern WV Brownfields Assistance Center, located at the WV Water Research Institute at the National Research Center for Coal & Energy, was created by the WV Legislature to empower communities to plan and implement brownfields redevelopment projects.
About the WV Campus Compact: West Virginia Campus Compact and its consortium of 27 colleges and universities are committed to providing quality service and service learning experiences to college students, increasing networking opportunities for college campuses, furthering the public purposes of higher education, and strengthening communities. The West Virginia version is one of 34 states in the overall national effort and is headquarted at WVU.
About the West Virginia Community Development Hub: The West Virginia Community Development Hub is a statewide non-profit organization that works to engage communities and organizations in a system of community development that is locally-determined and directed.
About the WVU Division of Design & Merchandising: The WVU Division of Design & Merchandising is providing a design education that develops broad and flexible skills to position graduates not only for employment as designers, but also as managers, researchers, strategists and communicators.
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