BECKLEY, WV (LOOTPRESS) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today approval of a $500,000 grant to the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority (NRGRDA) to clean up the former Beckley landfill.
Beckley Mayor Rob Rappold said that remediation of the site will enhance multiple opportunities for outdoor recreation and tourism in Raleigh County and the region. “This initiative aligns with the region’s current Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy and will serve as a future focal point within the City’s outdoor economic development planning efforts for the Piney Creek Park and Preserve ,” said Rappold.
The mayor said other multi-purpose recreational benefits include access to the Alfred Beckley mill site, which is located on Piney Creek in the valley below the former landfill and listed on the National Historic Register of Places. “Remediation will also allow expansion of walking / hiking trails to connect to the nearby New River Gorge National Park and Preserve trails and other park areas including existing soccer fields, various playgrounds, and related outdoor recreational use areas,” he added.
Jina Belcher, NRGRDA executive director, said the specific area to be addressed is an eight-acre site located on New Jersey Avenue and Whorley Road in the southeastern section of Beckley, overlooking historic Piney Creek. She said the landfill operated from the 1950s until the early 1980s and was used by the City of Beckley for landfilling of various waste materials, including household trash and various business waste streams. Since closure in the early 1980s the site has remained unused.
“As more visitors come into the area seeking outdoor recreational activities, we can expect to see the creation of new businesses, expansion of existing business expansion, and related capital investments,” said Belcher. The Recreational Development Plan projects up to 120 new jobs, up to $3 million in new tax revenues, and up to six new businesses. “We’re excited to work with the City of Beckley through our aligned outdoor priorities to expand and improve the visitor experience.”
NRGRDA is engaging the community through a network of local non-profit groups and entities, plus city and state agencies, that will be used to canvas local residents and obtain extensive involvement. Partners — in addition to the City of Beckley — include the Piney Creek Watershed Association, Raleigh County Historical Society, Active Southern WV, Beckley Area Foundation, Theater WV, Mountain State Trail Alliance, WV Brownfields Assistance Center, and WV Department of Environmental Protection Office of Environmental Remediation.