City one of eight to be chosen for new program

Last updated: February 12. 2014 6:07PM - 1093 Views
By Beth Sergent bsergent@civitasmedia.com



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POINT PLEASANT — The city of Point Pleasant is about to receive some assistance in developing a plan to deal with distressed and abandoned properties.


The city is one of eight entities in the state approved for the 2014 Brownfields, Abandoned, Dilapidated (BAD) Buildings Technical Assistance Program.


The BAD Buildings Program, which is funded through a grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, is a statewide initiative that provides technical assistance and site analysis tools to develop and enhance abandoned/dilapidated buildings programs in West Virginia communities. The program also addresses barriers to identifying, prioritizing and redeveloping BAD buildings.


Luke Elser, the BAD Buildings program manager, said the city receives no money from the program, but what it does receive is free technical assistance needed to deal with abandoned and dilapidated buildings. This assistance is valued at $10,000, an amount that can be used for any matching grant funds the city may obtain for dealing with the properties.


“The program is basically guidance and instruction,” Elser said. “We set up team meetings, train volunteers on the issues of abandoned and dilapidated buildings, how to go out to survey the building and how to prioritize the buildings.”


Elser said many small towns in West Virginia don’t have the money to throw at these types of problems, but the BAD Buildings Program will show residents how to strategically use resources available to them to improve properties by tearing them down or rehabbing them, as well as offering tips on how to deal with property owners, including helping the owners find grant funds or loans to fix their properties.


Prioritizing which properties to focus on will be the job of the team of local residents Elser will help lead. On this team, Elser hopes to see representatives from the city, local businesses, residents, a representative from Main Street Point Pleasant, etc. Elser said this entire initiative will be led by volunteers. Elser said the goal is to have everyone on board and be transparent. He said it’s important the public knows what properties are being looked at for improvement and why.


“Our overall goal is to return properties to productive use,” Elser said. “The community gets to decide what that means to them.”


Elser said some of those possibilities could be turning property into community parks or gardens or using the property for economic development purposes.


“The goal is to take the property and turn it into something beneficial to the community,” Elser said.


This is the first year for the program. Elser will be coming to Point Pleasant in the next few weeks to organize a local BAD Buildings Program kick-off meeting for citizens who wish to participate or have their concerns heard about eyesore properties. When the meeting’s date and time are announced, it will appear in the Point Pleasant Register.


Working on the grant for the city were Mayor Brian Billings, City Clerk Amber Tatterson, City Inspector Jeremy Bryant and City Attorney RF Stein.


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