West Virginia Region 1 PDC Regional Brownfields Project

The Region 1 Planning and Development Council (Region 1 PDC) consists of a multi-county area, including McDowell County, in the southern portion of West Virginia. The Region 1 PDC received a Hazardous Brownfields Assessment Grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to inventory and assess multiple brownfields or “grayfields” (post mining) sites. Through the 1970s, McDowell County led the nation in coal production, especially high quality metallurgical coal, until the collapse of the U.S. steel industry in the 1980s. SGA is part of a team retained by the Region 1 PDC to explore economic and community revitalization strategies for two targeted brownfields communities.

Gary, WV - The Town of Gary was established by the U.S. Steel Corporation as a company town to support the coal mine operations but by the mid 1980s ceased operations and is now owned by a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Norfolk Southern Railroad Corporation called Pocahontas Land Corporation. SGA’s master plan addresses several vacant properties and former company-owned vacant buildings. Despite the overall decline in industry, there are sectors of vitality and SGA’s master plan capitalizes on these opportunities to consolidate economic activities in clusters in order to establish a small but vibrant town center. The master plan also proposes clusters of modern pre-fabricated infill workforce housing to reinforce walkable neighborhoods.

Iaeger, WV - Originally established in 1885 to serve a population brought to the area to support a railroad facility for what would become the Norfolk and Western Railroad, the Town of Iaeger is still very much a railroad town. The town’s layout, which was performed by the son of Colonel William Iaeger, turned out to be less than fortuitous. Located in a steep valley at the confluence of the Tug Fork and Dry Fork Rivers, the town is very prone to flooding with the most recent devastating floods occurring in 2001 and 2002. Currently, a U.S. Army Corps Engineers Flood Mitigation effort initiated a buy-out of the most flood-prone properties. SGA’s is working to determine an economic development and urban design master plan that addresses the impact of essentially eliminating half of the downtown commercial district. SGA’s proposal creates a new riverfront park and flood management zone which integrates foundations and ruins from the former buildings to establish landscape zones and settings for programmed and un-programmed activities and events.