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Charles Town Goes Green in Evitts Run Brownfield Project

By Patrick Kirby

The city of Charles Town, WV has been active on brownfields revitalization in its downtown and core neighborhoods since U.S. EPA awarded its first Brownfields Assessment grant in 2000.

The community has undertaken many revitalization projects since, and is now focused on an ambitious initiative to transform waterfront brownfields on the Evitts Run Creek into a new park, recreation, and nature area with innovative green infrastructure that will boost a distressed neighborhood and protect the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

A core component of the initiative will be to deploy an innovative, watershed-scale, multi-BMP stormwater treatment train along a 0.7-mile stretch of the Evitts Run Creek on the portion flowing through the Charles Town community before it joins the Shenandoah River, flows into the Potomac River and then the Chesapeake Bay.

Key components of the "Evitts Run Creek Green Infrastructure Park" will include a new on-line wet stormwater lake and park space dubbed "Lake Charles," the retrofit of the deteriorated Perry Pond stormwater basin, creation of three large rain gardens, creation of constructed wetlands, creek shoreline restoration, planting of hundreds of urban trees and shrubs, removal of six acres of long-abandoned parking lot at a long-defunct creekside factory area, deployment of pervious parking and trail facilities, and creation of a native nursery to support future green infrastructure efforts in the watershed.

When completed, the new Evitts Run green space and associated walking/biking trails will connect the city of Ranson Civic Center (a redeveloped brownfield), the Boys & Girls Club of Jefferson County (also a former brownfield), a remediated manufactured gas site used as a park area, a former dump used for the community lake, the American Public University campus (a Brownfields Renewal, Phoenix Award, and People's Choice Award winner), the largest solar photovoltaic facility in West Virginia, and the Happy Retreat estate of Charles Town founder Charles Washington, brother of the nation's first president.

Charles Town is very pleased to be working in collaboration with a robust group of stakeholders on this project, including the Blue Ridge Watershed Coalition, the NAACP Jefferson County Branch, the Boys & Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle, the WV Region 9 Planning & Economic Development Council's Chesapeake Bay Program, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, community groups, private landowners, and other partners.

Photo courtesy of flickr.

Charles Town has leveraged EPA Brownfield Assessment grant funding, an EPA Brownfield Area-Wide Planning Grant, an EPA Brownfield Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund, a Brownfield RFL Supplemental grant, three rounds of Chesapeake Bay Stewardship funding from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation and the U.S. EPA, WV Department of Environmental Protection brownfield funds, and local resources to support this project.

When complete, the Evitts Run Green Infrastructure Park will revitalize a distressed minority neighborhood, culminate a decade of brownfields renewal, establish a wonderful regional park, showcase an exciting model of local government action on green infrastructure, and annually reduce 30,000 pounds of sediment, 350 pounds of nitrogen and 375 pounds of phosphorus to the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Charles Town is excited to put green to work to revitalize brownfields.

Patrick Kirby is Director of the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center

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