On June 15, 2023, EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Adam Ortiz joined representatives of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP), the Morgan County School Board and Morgan County Parks and Recreation in a tour and celebration of what is now the “Alex” Rickli Memorial Soccer Complex in Berkely Springs, West Virginia.
This nearly 10-acre once underutilized former industrial property is now a state-of-the-art soccer complex, including multi-use recreation fields, bioretention gardens, a concession stand, and a beautiful playground with a soon-to- be installed covered pavilion and expanded parking facilities.
Revitalization of this brownfield property along the main highway into Berkeley Springs and the main gateway into the majority of Morgan County was achieved utilizing the Morgan County School Board’s $200,000 Brownfields Cleanup Grant, awarded in October 2013.
“I’ve been to West Virginia more than a dozen times in the past two years and have seen firsthand how Brownfields funding is cleaning up the land, returning it to productive use, and helping to revitalize communities,” said Ortiz.
“Brownfields can be unsightly, but EPA sees them as acres of opportunities,” he added.
Ortiz also congratulated WVDEP for being selected for a $1 million Supplemental Revolving Loan Fund Grant from EPA to continue brownfields cleanups across West Virginia.
“We are thrilled to celebrate the transformation of what is now the ‘Alex’ Rickli Memorial Soccer Complex, a shining example of the remarkable impact that can be achieved through collaborative efforts,” said WVDEP Cabinet Secretary Harold Ward.
“With the support of Governor Justice, the WVDEP is proud to have played a crucial role in revitalizing this once underutilized property. The complex now stands as a testament to the power of brownfields funding, which turns community liabilities into community assets, and fosters positive impacts across our state,” he continued.
WVDEP also provided assessment funds utilizing EPA Brownfields assessment grant funds totaling more than $56,000.
In addition, West Virginia University Northern Brownfields Assistance Center provided grant application services, a technical assistance grant, and community involvement coordination.
The soccer complex was named for Joy Alexandria “Alex” Rickli, a local student and soccer player, who was killed in June 2010 when she was struck by a vehicle while riding her bicycle to soccer practice.
The complex significantly benefits the area’s community and youth by providing a space for recreation and improved health and wellness, and overall positive impact in the community.
Since 1997, EPA has awarded more than $48 million through 114 Brownfields grants in 43 West Virginia communities. To date, this funding has leveraged an additional $1.7 billion in public and private investment, returning 1,798 acres to readiness for reuse, and creating more than 5,400 new jobs.
Photo courtesy of USEPA. Pictured (left to right): Michael Powell, Morgan County Soccer League President; Dawn Beal, Director of Morgan County Parks & Recreation; Adam Ortiz, EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator; Justin Litten, Morgan County School Board member and Morgan County Soccer League vice president; Aaron Close, president of Morgan County Board of Education and treasurer of Morgan County Parks & Recreation; Dana Aunkst, Director of Brownfields Program EPA; Erin Brittain, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Brownfields program manager; Scott Mandirola, Deputy Cabinet Secretary with the West Virginia Department of Environ- mental Protection; plus Bill Clark, Morgan County Commissioner.