Downtown Waynesboro

News Virginian File

The city of Waynesboro was awarded $300,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency in the form of a Brownfields Assessment Grant.

Waynesboro was awarded $300,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency in the form of the Brownfields Assessment Grant.

In the city’s application for the grant, according to a press release, the city’s planning department said “the revival and restoration of our Brownfields program is a key step in reaching our goals of creating a vibrant and thriving Waynesboro where the gateway to the Shenandoah National Park and Appalachian Trail will be identified not only visually, but with thriving retail and commercial businesses lining the way.”

Waynesboro’s Director of Planning Luke Juday said in an email statement Monday that the grant “provides assistance in investigating and creating remediation plans for environmentally compromised sites.” This most recent grant award will enable the city to continue work that began with a Brownfields grant in 2012, which enabled the city “to procure Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments for many notable properties downtown, but there are still more to go.”

“These assessments involve investigating historic uses of the property, taking soil samples, and digging test holes to determine how contaminated the soil is,” said Juday in an email statement. “Waynesboro’s core neighborhoods have been a thriving industrial center for over a century now. Contaminants and question marks tend to accumulate over time, each decreasing the value of a property or creating a barrier to redevelopment. If there used to be a gas station on a site, there may be buried oil tanks. If there used to be a dry cleaner on a site, the soil may have toxic chemicals in it, and the list goes on.”

Juday added that environmental site assessments “help remove the uncertainty from former industrial sites,” and enable property owners to secure a “clean bill of health” for the property, or obtain estimates for cleanup costs.

“The grant also provides some money for economic studies and redevelopment plans that can be marketed with properties. These kinds of plans help potential investors see what’s possible in Waynesboro. Citizens won’t see much visible change from this money, but the activities it funds are a crucial part of keeping an aging city moving forward,” Juday said.

The city’s press release stated that the grant funds “can be used for redevelopment planning to help localities create a marketable vision for the responsible reuse of these sites.”

“Grants awarded by EPA’s Brownfield Program provide communities and tribes across the country with an opportunity to transform contaminated sites into community assets,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in the press release.

The 2012 grant that the city received also funded an economic analysis and redevelopment concept plan for the downtown, the press release stated.

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