Central Chemical forum set for tonight

April 17, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

Architecture students from the University of Virginia will attend a public forum tonight to present their suggestions for reuse of the former Central Chemical's contaminated 19-acre property in Hagerstown's West End.

About 10 students are expected to share drawings and maps detailing their plans, Hagerstown spokeswoman Karen Giffin said.

The property off Mitchell Avenue in 1997 was placed on the Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund list of the country's most hazardous waste sites.

Late last year, the city, working with consultant E2 of Charlottesville, Va., established a land use committee made up of about 25 members, including government officials, Central Chemical president, residents and members of nonprofit organizations.


The committee, which is charged with recommending future uses for the property, has been meeting for several months.

The city funded the $63,186 contract with the consultant with money from the Superfund Redevelopment Initiative, an EPA program that funds community-based reuse planning efforts at Superfund sites.

As part of a government-funded analysis of the EPA program, the University of Virginia students decided to do case studies, including for Hagerstown.

Hagerstown was chosen for a case study because of its proximity to the university and because it is typical of industrial towns, said Julie Bargmann, University of Virginia associate professor of landscape architecture, who has attended land-use committee meetings.

Students were asked to develop scenarios for future uses of the Central Chemical site, along with ideas for potential revitalization of the city.

Members of the committee, who are expected to attend today's meeting, are to make recommendations on reuse of the property at a June meeting.

The EPA will determine whether the recommended use is realistic and feasible.

The EPA says that from the 1930s until the facility closed in the mid-1980s, Central Chemical blended agricultural pesticides and fertilizers, creating waste and byproducts that the agency alleges were disposed of in an old stone quarry on the property and in a sinkhole. Contaminants on the site include arsenic, lead, benzene, aldrin, chlordane, DDD, DDE, DDT, dieldrin and methoxychlor, the EPA says.

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