Pound participates in new brownfields program

November 28, 2023

Emma Kelly, New Economy Field Coordinator, emma@appvoices.org, (865) 585-4939

Pound, Va. — The Town of Pound is partnering with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and Appalachian Voices with assistance from the West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center to participate in a new revitalization program that will inventory sites and buildings and identify dilapidated and abandoned buildings. The inventory will then be used to develop a redevelopment plan for the community. This program, which is modeled off of the West Virginia University’s BAD (Brownfield, Abandoned and Dilapidated) Buildings Program, is meant to replicate the success of that initiative in Virginia.

VDEQ completed this type of inventory work as a pilot program in Smyth County, but Pound will be the first Virginia community to participate in the program since the pilot. Funding for the program comes through the VDEQ via the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and will be used to look at commercial, industrial and residential properties.

On Dec. 15, representatives from VDEQ, WVBAC and Appalachian Voices will team up with community residents for a community-led inventory and redevelopment planning workday. The volunteers will split into teams and log observations of site details using an app called REGRID. The inventoried data will include the building’s location and current condition so that they can be ranked for prioritization as part of redevelopment planning. Once properties are identified and ranked, VDEQ will provide technical assistance to Pound to help with future redevelopment efforts.

“Participating in the BAD Buildings program will definitely go a long way to assisting the town council to seek funding and attempt to put our town back on the map,” said Leabern Kennedy, Vice Mayor of Pound. “With new business already coming to Pound, being able to fix existing structures and make them useable options for additional business will help to make us that thriving community once again. We can’t wait for all the new changes that are now more of a reality than a dream.”

Karen Weber, the Brownfields Coordinator for VDEQ, presented the program proposal to the Pound Town Council in September, which unanimously voted to proceed. Vice Mayor Leabern Kennedy is serving as the point of contact for the town for this initiative. Food and drink will be provided to all volunteers.