PITTSBURG — State officials including Gov. Laura Kelly and Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Lee Norman were in Pittsburg on Thursday, May 16 for a ribbon cutting at the formerly contaminated site of what was once the Weir City Zinc Works.
As a result of efforts over several years to improve the site, located just south of Home Depot, by federal, state and local stakeholders including the City of Pittsburg and current property owners Bob and Sandra Boys, the North Walnut Street extension and environmental cleanup project is officially complete.
“The EPA, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, various city departments, property owners and consultants all engaged thoughtfully and productively and provided resources and services that really led to the solution that we’re looking at here,” Pittsburg Deputy City Manager Jay Byers said at the ribbon cutting.
KDHE Secretary Lee Norman also discussed the benefits of private stakeholders partnering with agencies at multiple levels of government to improve the area.
“It’s not coincidental that health and environment are linked,” Norman said. “And I think that the project and the work that we see around us are just a terrific example of a local and state, especially, partnership. The Environmental Stewardship Fund was key in helping to make this come to light, but there’s creative and visionary thinking on the part of so many of the local people here.”
Rep. Monica Murnan (D-Pittsburg) was also at the ribbon cutting, and introduced Gov. Laura Kelly.
“She understands the importance of projects like this that may not be super important to anybody else, but it’s a big deal to us,” Murnan said in introducing the governor. “And she understands how to put the right people in the right places to make things happen.”
Gov. Kelly, who was also in town for the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet later in the evening, discussed the significance of the multi-year cleanup project.
“Those efforts set an example for other communities,” Kelly said. “When motivated individuals work together, no matter how difficult it is, to better their communities, we do see real results like this. The success of this remediation results in the extension of North Walnut from 28th to 29th. But what does that really mean to the community of Pittsburg? It means access. This new roadway connects businesses, communities, and provides development opportunities for the city. And as an added bonus it cleans up this location and makes it safe now, and into the future.”