Cleanup grant request sparks debate

A Charles Town City Council member wanted the city to apply for $235,000 in federal cleanup money.

A Charles Town City Council member wanted the city to apply for $235,000 in federal cleanup money.

December 04, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A Charles Town City Council member's attempt Monday night to acquire federal funding for a redevelopment project southwest of Charles Town started a heated debate among council members.

Council member Matt Ward wanted the council to apply for federal money that would allow the city to pay for any cleanup costs if pollution were detected at any of a number of abandoned or underutilized commercial buildings the city wants to redevelop.

Council members Randy Breeden and Geraldine Willingham expressed a number of concerns about Ward's idea.

Willingham said the city does not have time to devote to the cleanup plan because city staff members are busy working on a planned $5.5 million revitalization of the downtown area and replacing central water lines downtown.


The EPA has awarded $250,000 toward the redevelopment project, which involves coming up with new uses for empty buildings, a seven-acre parking lot, a reservoir and an old scrap yard on the southwest side of town.

"We can only do so much at one time," Willingham said.

Ward wanted council members to apply for $235,000 in federal cleanup money.

Breeden said he is concerned what would happen if any cleanup costs exceeded $235,000.

Ward said he wants the city to get serious about redeveloping the area, especially in light of an accident two weeks ago in which a 10-year-old boy fell 45 feet down a shaft at the former People's Supply grain processing facility at Samuel and North streets.

The People's Supply building is in the area where the old commercial sites are located.

Willingham objected to Ward's statement, and questioned why the city should get involved in cleanup of such sites and using federal funds to do it.

"Why is it always the taxpayers?" Willingham said.

Ward, along with council members John Ward and Bill Jordan, voted in favor of the council using a letter Ward drafted to apply for the federal funds.

Council members Breeden, Violet Lowery and Russell Miller voted against it.

Willingham, who was sitting in for Mayor Randy Hilton, broke the tie vote by voting against the funding request.

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