Brownfield restoration project eyed for county

A state Department of Environmental Protection pilot program to restore and repurpose brownfield sites includes remedial work needed to connect walking and bicycle trails in Lycoming County.

The plan was briefly shared by Randy Farmerie, DEP environmental cleanup and brownfields program manager, with the Environment Justice Advisory Board Tuesday.

The Susquehanna River Walk starts in Montoursville and extends through the city of Williamsport to Susquehanna State Park. Plans are to eventually extend the path to connect to the Pine Creek Rail Trail path in Jersey Shore that runs north along Pine Creek.

Farmerie said brownfield sites between the trails have been identified and pose obstacles for connecting them. The extended route would need to cross Route 15, Interstate 180 and Lycoming Creek.

He said state agencies including the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, state Department of Transportation and DEP have long considered the trail’s issue.

The plan, like other brownfield pilot projects, requires funding before moving forward.

Among some of the potential funding sources are the state’s Growing Greener Program, DEP’s Industrial Sites Reuse Program, the Environmental Protection Agency brownfields program and PennDOT.

Brownfields, Farmerie said, often abandoned mine lands or otherwise damaged properties being eyed for recreation or redevelopment.

Seven pilot project brownfield sites have been identified in smaller or underserved communities across the state.

They include plans to reclaim former industrial sites for parks, trails, waterfront redevelopment and other uses.

“The trend we are seeing is trying to build waterfronts on brownfields,” he said.

An upcoming conference in Bethlehem Oct 1-3 will cover brownfields reclamation projects, he told the board.

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