CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- If Stephanie Johnson and her West Side neighbors have their way, the old Sunoco station at the corner of Greendale Drive and Washington Street could soon become a dog park, or maybe a children's park.
First, though, Johnson needs to ensure the property is free of environmental hazards.
Like other former gas stations, the .71-acre site at the foot of the West Side hill once hid underground storage tanks. And its soil was likely contaminated by gasoline that overflowed from car fill pipes and oil that washed from the garage floor.
Johnson, director of the West Side Main Street program, recently obtained a $5,000 grant from the West Virginia Brownfields programs. The program is aimed at helping folks reuse contaminated (brownfields) sites.
Working with Patrick Kirby at the Northern WV Brownfields Assistance Center at WVU, Johnson and other grant winners will meet in June to decide how to use their money. It could go toward more soil testing or feasibility studies, she said.
"Since I've been here, this is the site I get the most calls about," Johnson said Monday beside the fenced-in property.
"I get calls about once a month: 'Do you know what's going on? Are there any grants available?' Most are from Edgewood residents."
As she was talking, a woman from Mama Rosa's Pizzeria across Washington Street walked over to ask what was happening with the property.
"This is such an important place for the community," Johnson said. "West Side Main Street is eager to use this grant and future resources towards the development of this site. Ensuring the community is heard is our top priority."
Two ideas have risen to the top, she said -- a dog park and a children's park. "The only concern with a children's park, if it's not fenced in, is safety. Washington Street traffic gets a little fast."
Because the property lies within its West Side Community Renewal District, the Charleston Urban Renewal Authority has also been keeping an eye on the Sunoco site, said CURA Director Jim Edwards.