MPBA and Borough Council address Brownfields
MUNCY – A new agency has been developed to assess and cleanup Lycoming County’s “brownfields.” The Lycoming County Brownfield Assessment Coalition seeks to identify properties in the county that have the potential to be reopened and reused for development. Many of these properties are typically former industrial or manufacturing sites.
Muncy has been designated as one of the primary focuses for the coalition and this month representatives spoke to both the Muncy Professional Business Association and the Muncy Borough Council to help them build their inventory and engage the public along with organizations to help identify those properties that are being underutilized.
Council member Ed Feigles said that they have listed 100 properties so far for the coalition to look at, primarily the old Andritz property and the former Bryfogle property as priorities.
Kim Wheeler, lead planner for the Coalition under the County’s community development planning commission, asked the Muncy organizations to partner with the county. “We envision more opportunities for specific sites,” she said. Many of these properties are underutilized for various socioeconomic reasons such as abandonment, tax delinquency and/or blight which inhibits redevelopment because of the presence of hazardous substances.
Bill Kelly also from the county said that a $200,000 grant has been issued by the EPA in 2005 to do assessments on four municipal clusters. “These current grants and inventory are “an evolving list,” he said. The clusters are: Wlliiamsport, Jersey Shore (Porter Township), Montgomery, and Hughesville (Wolf Township.)
Another grant was issued in 2012 for $550,000 to cover hazardous substance and petroleum sites and these designated areas include the city of Williamsport and the Borough of Muncy.
Phase One is the assessment which includes the history and basic evaluation of its use. In Phase Two soil samples are taken to see if the site is appropriate or of value. “This is done often with mergers,” Kelly added, “to understand any environmental liabilities.” Often the question asked is if the property can be rented out or taxes collected.
Council President Buzz Baker said that the list started with 100 sites but has been narrowed down to 80, and then to 50. “We started with hazardous sites such as old garages.”
Another property identified is the old car dealer garage behind Muncy Bank & Trust on the corner of Water and N. Main Streets. This property will be resurrected as a much needed parking area according to owner Gene Walburn and the garage will be torn down soon.
Three sites are already in Phase One. One of these is the old Barto property in Muncy. “It is an abandoned site,” said Wheeler. “The site will be razed and ready for redevelopment for the benefit of the community,” she added. The other two sites are the old DCNR building in South Williamsport and a property on Reach Road in Williamsport.
“Keep in mind, we are looking at redevelopment potential,” Kelly concluded. For example, a vacant store front is an opportunity.”
“And we sure got ’em,” said Council member, Linda Stein. “We all know of problem properties in town.” Wheeler urged everyone to get involved and spread the word to gather information to maximize opportunities for these potential sites. Once titles are cleared, then these underused properties can transfer ownership more easily.
Flood plains can also be used according to the Coalition.
Stein also said, “This gives us an opportunity to handle some properties that we have not effectively addressed before.”
“The lists are used to help guide our thinking along the way,” added Kelly.