Help Needed: West Side Neighborhood Association To Survey Buildings

The West Side Neighborhood Association BAD Buildings Team will hold its first Team Meeting on February 23rd at 6:00 PM at the St. Anthony’s Catholic Church former school building at 1027 6th Street on Charleston’s West Side.  A potluck supper will precede the training; if able, bring a dish to share.  Community volunteers are needed to help with a survey of dilapidated buildings on the West Side.  All those interested in volunteering are encouraged to attend the Team Meeting for more information and training.

The WSNA BAD – Brownfields, Abandoned, Dilapidated – Buildings Team is made up of West Side Neighborhood Association, the Charleston Main Streets West Side Program, and local citizen volunteers.  Its goal is to identify and address the blighted property in Charleston’s West Side neighborhood and return these properties to positive uses.  The BAD Buildings Team is supported by a $10,000 technical assistance grant through the Northern WV Brownfields Assistance Center’s BAD Buildings Program to address barriers to the reuse and redevelopment of abandoned and dilapidated buildings on the West Side.

All members of the community are encouraged to attend and become volunteers.  This meeting will be used to train attendees on how to conduct the survey and begin identifying potential problem properties.  Once these properties have been identified, the team will work with property owners and the community to determine how to return the properties to productive use.

“Everyone seems to acknowledge that we have issues with the condition of houses and buildings in parts of the West Side,” said John Butterworth, a WSNA Board Member and Neighborhood Planner for the City of Charleston.   The Neighborhood Association saw this as an opportunity to specifically identify these properties and better know the actual scope of our problem.  Without hard numbers it’s difficult to know where to start.  This will help us make our case to grant funders and other organizations when asking for assistance as well.  After this process we hope we know right where to focus our efforts to help revive our neighborhood.  This will help us connect the dots between problem properties and constructive plans to make them a positive part of the neighborhood again.

“The BAD Buildings model provides a ‘road map’ for communities to begin addressing their blighted and problem properties,” said Luke Elser, BAD Buildings Program Manager for the WV Brownfields Assistance Center.  “First, we have to determine the extent of the problem through a comprehensive survey.  Then, we need to reach out to property owners and involve them as partners.  Once we’ve done this, we can start thinking about what reuses a property may have, such as a new residence, a new commercial building, or a public green space.  Once we know the “destination” of a property, we can work to find private developers, grants, and other funding to get to the destination.”

The BAD Buildings Program is funded through a grant from the Benedum Foundation through the WVU Foundation, a private non-profit corporation that generates, receives and administers private gifts for West Virginia University.

Information about the BAD Buildings Program can be found at  The Northern WV Brownfields Assistance Center is a program of the West Virginia Water Research Institute, located at WVU’s National Research Center for Coal & Energy.