PITTSBURG — The City of Pittsburg received the League of Kansas Municipalities Inspire – Create – Innovate Community Award at this year’s League Annual Conference in Overland Park on Oct. 14. Pittsburg’s Weir City Zinc Works & North Walnut Street Project received the award for the infrastructure category.

“Every year, we look forward to highlighting innovative and creative projects in Kansas cities,” said Trey Cocking, Deputy Director of the League of Kansas Municipalities. “Pittsburg’s Weir City Zinc Works & North Walnut Street Project won the infrastructure category because it is an excellent example of a public-private partnership that addressed a blighted situation and turned the area into desirable, developable land.”

The Weir City Zinc Works Company was a former smelting plant, which operated on North Broadway Street in Pittsburg from about 1880 until 1920. The long-abandoned property was identified by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment as an orphan site, meaning entities responsible for the pollution are unknown, unwilling or unable to pay for its remediation. This situation proved challenging for the current landowners and City officials. Concentrations of lead, arsenic, cadmium, and zinc on the property made the site an environmental safety hazard and unsuitable for new development.

The City collaborated with the property owners and KDHE to neutralize the contamination of the former smelting site by consolidating the hazardous material and burying it under a new road. The City used this opportunity to extend a portion of North Walnut Street, providing transportation access to companies in Pittsburg’s north business district.

The League’s Inspire – Create – Innovate Community Awards celebrate recent innovations, programs, community projects, and acknowledge overall excellence in local government. Beyond honoring cities, LKM aims for these awards to spotlight innovations that other communities might replicate. There are six categories: Infrastructure, Public Safety, Economic Development, Community Health, Youth Engagement, and Communications.