HVO receives Excellence in Site Reuse Award from the EPA

By Caroline Klapper | Apr 19, 2013
Photo by: Caroline Klapper Donald Rigger, chief of the Superfund Remedial and Site Evaluation Branch of the EPA, gives the Exellence in Site Reuse Award to HVO President George Marshall.

In 2004, Haywood Vocational Opportunities began site construction on a new building at 172 Riverbend St. in Waynesville. Since it’s completion, the site has allowed the company to expand and offer more opportunities to the individuals it serves — those with disabilities and disadvantages who receive job and life skills training through HVO programs.

What HVO President George Marshall also did when he chose that particular site was to put what had been vacant, unused property back into good use for the community. For that action, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded HVO the Excellence in Site Reuse Award on Wednesday.

The award is given to recognize those who “have gone above and beyond in supporting the Superfund Redevelopment Initiative through outstanding efforts when redeveloping a Superfund site,” said Donald Rigger, chief of the Superfund Remedial and Site Evaluation Branch of the EPA’s Superfund Region 4.

HVO’s Riverbend site was previously the home of Benefield Industries, Inc., which burned down in 1982 and was not rebuilt. In 1989, the area became an EPA Superfund site, which required the clean up of hazardous materials found at the site. Clean up was completed in 2001, and Marshall soon purchased the property for HVO — a move that required special considerations for the site’s previous Superfund status.

“We’re really about the environments and have spent billions cleaning up sites,” Rigger said. “What we can’t do, unfortunately, is redevelop sites.”

In many cases, Superfund sites are cleaned and then simply become eyesores because no one will develop them again, but in the last 15 years, the EPA has been working to find partners in private, government or nonprofit fields interested in redeveloping such sites and making them a beneficial part of the community again.

With HVO, the EPA found such a partner.

“HVO is being recognized today for your commitment to the redevelopment of a property which had previously been used for many heavy industrial purposes, including furniture manufacturing, lumber treatment and chemical mixing,” Rigger said, pointing out that in HVO’s case, a plan had to be formulated to meet the necessary environmental restrictions and work around existing monitoring wells on the site. “Not everybody is willing to do this.

“EPA supports the redevelopment of contaminated properties and views the revitalization of communities affected by contaminated properties as a key component of its mission to protect human health and the environment,” he continued.

On receiving the Excellence in Site Reuse Award, Marshall said he was honored and commended not only the EPA, but he also gave thanks to the local contractors and construction companies who helped to build HVO’s Riverbend location, including Clark and Leatherwood, Civil Design Concepts, Mountain Design and the town of Waynesville.

“The timing was perfect,” Marshall said of his desire to expand HVO just as the EPA was completing it’s clean up of the site. “We were very honored to be able to acquire the site and develop it. We try to be good stewards to our community.”

The decision turned out to be a good one, he continued, saying, “It was a tremendous step in our development all the way around.”

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