By Wayne Allen
One of the main goals of the Southern Ohio Port Authority (SOPA) is to bring economic development to Scioto County and become the primary economic organization in the county. The organization announced this week they will receive a $35,000 in development grants from AEP and Fluor B&W.
“American Electric Power notified us on Friday, that we received a local economic advancement program grant for $10,000.,” said Jason Kester, Executive Director of SOPA. “The first thing we’re going to use that on is for a brownfield inventory. We know we have a lot of brownfield sites in and round Portsmouth and New Boston, we don’t know exactly what they are.”
Kester said part of the AEP grant will be used to hire Hall and Associates to generate an inventory of the areas brownfields.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a brownfield can be defined as, “real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties protects the environment, reduces blight, and takes development pressures off greenspaces and working lands.”
Kester said Hall and Associates will be be in town in the coming days to gather information and hold meeting to gather further impute.
“I’ve already sent them a list of the underground storage tanks in town and some sites the EPA has already identified,” Kester said.
He said Hall and Associates will start their work on Wednesday.
“The reason they are starting right away is, we hope to use the brownfield inventory to apply for a couple of larger area wide planning grants. You take the information found in the inventory, there are other grant programs through the EPA where you can start do some urban planing and you can have some funds to do some environmental studies,” Kester said.
Kester said the area of focus is around the Norfolk and Southern Rail Yard in the more industrial portion of the area.
“In the second part of this grant we are going to be working with the city of Portsmouth and New Boston on figuring out the age and capacity of infrastructure. We’re working with American Electric Power, water company in trying to figure out how much and what kind of capacities we have,” Kester said. “We are trying to figure out if we added an industrial user to the existing water line, would they be able to handle it.”
Kester said with is information, if a business wants to come to the area, it’s known what the age and capacities of the local infrastructure is.
Kester said SOPA was also the recent recipient of a $25,000 grant from Fluor B&W Portsmouth.
“That $25,000 is going to go into developing some engineering and site development work for the area between Wheelersburg and Hanging Rock. This focusing on due to the resources available,” Kester said.
He said part of the Fluor B&W funding will be used to upgrade the equipment in the SOPA office.
Hesaid he has also taken delivery of the city of Portsmouth’s donation to economic development, a 2014 all wheel drive GMC Terrain 4 Cylinder Sports Utility Vehicle.
“We’ve put about 6,000 miles on my personal vehicle this year in SOPA related tasks. This week we’ve going to take the SOPA vehicle to Ironton for the grand opening of the port and Thursday and Friday I’ve got meetings in Columbus,” Kester said.
For more information about the Southern Ohio Port Authority call 740-935-2738, or visit them on Facebook.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.