Star City Ponders Mon Land

Brownfields site comes with caveat

Morgantown Dominion Post
30 April 2011
By Joel Cuthbert

STAR CITY — Town officials plan to pursue a recent proposal made by the Monongalia County Commission to accept transfer of the former Quality Glass property.

Earlier this month, Star City Mayor Bob Musick said county commissioners contacted the town regarding the 3-acre lot, located off VanVoorhis Road, with an offer to assume ownership of the property. Since then, town officials have expressed an interest in pursuing the commission’s proposal and possibly bringing the property into town limits.

“The county is looking to possibly do something with the property, and wanted to know if we were interested in it,” Musick said.

The property has been discussed by council for years, Musick said, during an April 5 council meeting, and in recent months, councilman Anthony Giambrone has asked about the status of the property on several occasions.

Formerly owned by the Lynch family, the property was officially conveyed to the county by deed in February 2002, according to Star City Treasurer Robert Lloyd. Due to its past use, he said the property was designated as a brownfields site. It has since been remediated by the county, primarily using brownfields grant money. The county completed clean-up of the property in summer 2010, and awaits certification through the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP).

“It’s a completely environmentally closed site; everything’s been remediated,” Pat Gallagher, president of CTL Engineering, which was involved in the clean-up, said in early April. “There’s a lot of potential there.”

To date, Lloyd said there has only been a few informal conversations between the town and county regarding the proposed transfer. However, Lloyd and former Star City mayor Allen Sharp did meet with county commissioners April 6 to see what role Star City might play in the commission’s plans for the property and to “discuss the pros and cons” of a transfer.

County commissioners were enthusiastic about a possible transfer at this meeting, Lloyd said.

“My read on the situation is that they would just like to divest themselves of the property,” he said. “They would like to give it to the town of Star City; there’s been no dollars talked about at all.”

However, Lloyd continued, there are several covenants attached to the property, including a right-of-way through the property for the adjoining property owners, as well as state and federal Environmental Protection Agency regulations and other prohibitions associated with the remediation performed. For instance, he said, no permanent structures would be allowed due to the condition of the soil, though a primitive boat ramp established by the Mon River Trail Conservancy has been allowed and is something “the commission wanted to see continue.”

“That was one of their requests,” Lloyd explained. Although town officials don’t anticipate any cost associated with the land transfer, Musick said there will be costs associated with owning it, including policing the property — located approximately two miles outside town limits, according to Police Chief Vic Propst — and property maintenance.

“So there’s a cost to this ‘free property,’ ” he said.

Following the most recent Star City Council meeting on April 19, Lloyd sent a letter to the county commission on behalf of council indicating an interest in continuing to discuss a possible transfer. Both Musick and Lloyd said the town is only interested in accepting the property if it receives the same terms under which the county initially accepted it, without being bound by any unreasonable demands.

“We’ll see if it’s going to be a viable project for Star City,” Lloyd said.

The town has not had any further correspondence with county commissioners since sending the letter and no further decisions on their proposal have been made at this time.

“Star City is definitely pursuing it; we are interested in it,” Musick said. “I’m hoping to have some closure on it by the time I leave office, which is June 30.”