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Local Coalition Unveils Recommendations for Former Shenango Coke Plant Site

A group composed of residents and local officials on Wednesday released its final visioning report for the sustainable redevelopment of the former Shenango Coke plant property located on Neville Island.

The report, which includes a set of guiding principles is intended for use by future developers of the of the 50-acre site on the Ohio River, was created by the Shenango Reimagined Advisory Council. Members of that council include:

  • Residents from Neville Island
  • Allegheny Land Trust
  • Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County
  • Allegheny County Economic Development
  • Elected officials from the boroughs of  Bellevue, Ben Avon and Emsworth
  • Allegheny County Clean Air Now and
  • The Breathe Project.

These efforts were facilitated by non-profit Delta Institute.

“The Guiding Principles provide a framework for redevelopment of the site that recognizes its positive economic development potential for a reuse that will not  create negative economic or environmental consequences for Neville or surrounding communities,” said Roy Kraynyk, of the Allegheny Land Trust.

The re-visioning process identified seven guiding principles important to the community for the redevelopment of the former Shenango site:

  1. While the reuse of the site should maximize net revenue to local and regional taxing bodies, is should not burden the public with expenses associated with mitigating negative impacts to air quality, water quality, roads or public health.
  2. Future users of the site should develop and maintain a positive relationship with local community stakeholders and mitigate any negative environmental impacts arising from the development of the property or the operations therein.
  3. The site should NOT be used for any industry that is considered a major source of air emissions requiring a Title V operating permit.
  4. Remediation of the site should be completed in accordance with the state Department of Environmental Protection Act 2 Cleanup standards to ensure public waterways, groundwater, and public health are protected. Additionally, remediation of the site should be attractive for desirable reuses.
  5. The site should NOT be used for activities related to hydraulic fracturing (also known as fracking) or the petrochemical industry.
  6. The site redevelopment should provide an opportunity to create sustaining jobs and workplace development opportunities for Allegheny County residents.
  7. Sustainable characteristics such as LEED Certification and Energy Star Certification are encouraged.

“The Guiding Principles were created by the Council to keep us on track for site ideation, environmental considerations, and both financial input and economic development for Neville Township and surrounding communities,” said Daniel Lenz, Emsworth Council Member.

The year-long site re-visioning process culminated in a two-hour community meeting on Feb. 19 to provide neighbors the opportunity to ask questions, provide feedback, and learn more. More than 60 residents and 18 organizations attended the meeting, along with state Reps. Anita Kulik and Adam Ravenstahl.

Attendees expressed desire for the site’s reuse to benefit the surrounding communities, and for a collaborative relationship between community groups and the new site owner.

“The site visioning report and Guiding Principles were well received by community members who attended the public meeting, which included residents, community officials, and environmental groups,” said Karen Grzywinski, of Allegheny County Clean Air Now. Grzywinski also serves as a board member for GASP.

The revisioning process also identified 20 site reuse ideas that are in alignment with Guiding Principles and market forces ranging from light- to heavy- industrial use, as well as specialty manufacturing. Ideas for the reuse of the site included everything from a commercial bakery or brewery to equipment or electronics assembly—all recommendations based on market analysis, with an emphasis on generating tax revenue and adding jobs to the local economy while minimizing or eliminating any potential negative environmental impacts.

Editor’s Note: Shenango Coke Works shut down operations in 2016 following emissions issues at the site and associated legal action—some of which GASP initiated. You can find out more about the events leading up to the closure and how the shuttering of operations helped improve local air quality on our blog.

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