$600K grant aims to clear Westmoreland brownfield sites for repurposing
The site of a former candy maker that operated on Lloyd Avenue in Latrobe nearly a century ago is expected to be given a new purpose as part of a Westmoreland County program to evaluate old and potentially contaminated industrial land for conversion to a different use.
County officials said that property later became Henry's Garage but was left vacant and sold to the county's land bank to facilitate its reuse.
County officials used part of a federal grant to determine the former gas station was free of contaminants. After it received a clean bill, it was sold to a private owner who is expected to convert the property into a parking lot.
That program now has another $600,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to assist with the cleanup of more brownfield sites.
“These brownfield sites, perceived to be contaminated spaces, can be converted for another industrial or commercial use,” said April Kopas, executive director of Westmoreland County Redevelopment Authority.
The county used a similar $500,000 grant in 2015 to assess the Latrobe property and five other sites, including the former Jeannette Glass plant and a riverfront industrial park in Monessen, as well as locations in Greensburg, Derry and Mt. Pleasant Borough.
“It's a great program to help communities like ours,” Latrobe Mayor Rosie Wolford said. “We're pretty landlocked here in Latrobe, so we need to find a way to rehabilitate existing properties.”
The program's two phases include reviewing records to determine how properties were used and a sampling of water and soil to assess whether sites are contaminated. Property owners will be responsible for any necessary cleanup, Kopas said.
She said the redevelopment authority identified 25 smaller sites for evaluation as part of the new grant, but the agency will accept applications from property owners who want to have their land included in the program.