Commissioners launch brownfield assessment project

Lycoming County should get an economic boost through its launching of its brownfield assessment project, and residents are encouraged to report brownfield locations.

On Thursday, the Lycoming County commissioners are expected to approve an award of a $308,325 contract to TRC, a national engineering services, consulting and construction management firm based out of Harrisburg, said Kim Wheeler, County Planning and Community Development lead planner.

TRC’s environmental consulting team will help the county’s brownfields steering council build and update its brownfield inventory by reaching out to the community and asking community members where brownfield sites are, said William Kelly, County Planning and Community Development deputy director.

“We want to make sure everyone in the county is engaged in the conversation: Where is your brownfield (site)? Tell us – we may be able to help revitalize it,” Kelly said.

A brownfield site is a property that is not at its full potential as a community or economic development or recreational site because of perceived environmental issues that may or may not be at that site, Kelly said.

“Our goal is to remove the question marks (from those sites) to support the reuse and revitalization of those properties,” he said.

TRC was chosen out of 12 bidders on performance-based criteria, particularly due to their innovative community outreach methods, Kelly said.

TRC’s services are vital to community development as these sites could not be reused without their testing to assess if there are hazardous materials on-site. TRC alerts the county as to what needs done; the actual revitalization process is separate, Kelly said.

Kelly clarified that hazardous materials can be anything from window caulking to asbestos and old lightbulb fixtures.

In 2006, the county received a $200,000 grant which is used in the Brodart project. Last year, the county received a $550,000 grant because the EPA saw the money put to good use. The language in the newest grant allows the county not only to deal with hazardous material sites, but petroleum sites, as well, such as gas stations, Kelly said. Out of this latest grant comes the $308,325 for TRC.

The grant includes three coalition partners: Williamsport, Muncy Borough and Lycoming County, which means a brownfield site anywhere within those areas can be identified and revitalized, Kelly said.

Kelly clarified this is not for greenfields, sites that have not had previous economic development.