Brownfields include residential, commercial, and industrial properties where redevelopment may be complicated by the potential presence of a hazardous substance.
The West Virginia Brownfields Conference in Morgantown deals with the issue of making brownfields suitable for development. It brings people together from across the state to show off projects that have been a success in the past, as examples for current projects to also be affective.
The conference moves to different areas of the state each year. Having the 8th Annual Conference in Morgantown gives local communities, development professionals and service providers great networking opportunities.
"What happens when we have it in Morgantown, we actually get to attract some different university professors we've been collaborating with, we've had some students come, also we pull some from the Pittsburgh market," said Patrick Kirby, the director of the Northern Brownfields Assistance Center. "From developers, with the steel towns in the northern part of the state, and the eastern part of the state. As well as some orchards and other former and industrial stuff out there."
The conference features a number of topics, including building demolition and environmental threats. Federal Agencies will also discuss upcoming plans, like the new initiatives brought up by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture.
"They're looking to address reuse of some old surface mine lands for agricultural purposes," said George Carico, the Director of the Southern Brownfields Assistance Center, which handles the southern counties in West Virginia. "So, we're trying to play a role there to help bring land holders and some different companies together with them to look at the agricultural industry that's here in West Virginia."
Projects are also presented from different cities around the state. They even set up a fun atmosphere, "Game Time," to decide which projects have the most potential.
"They get to see all the successes that we are having. But also for those ones that don't have successes yet, they get to learn from the others and get those connections," said Kirby. "So, that's really the networking that it involved in this always turns out to pay huge dividends to the communities that are here. "
The group will meet again Friday to discuss legislature and also have other activities. The event is open to people who are interested to hear the discussions, if they stop at the registration table at the Waterfront Place Hotel.