Pittsburg works to turn former smelting operation into economic development

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Lead and zinc mining in the Four States helped build the economy of many area towns. However, that process left behind contaminated soil. But one local town hopes to change that, and spawn economic development in the process.

If you’ve been to the Pittsburg town center on North Broadway, you’ve probably noticed red colored concrete on both sides of the road. It marked the spot of a former smelting operation. After it was cleaned up, the area was transformed by development.

And Jay Byers is hoping history will repeat itself.

“The cleanup itself should be done in about a month, all right, then we will start building the road, and the road is going to be the cap over the hazardous materials,” says Jay Byers, Pittsburg Deputy City Manager.

Contractors for the Kansas Department of Transportation are doing the same thing to another contaminated smelting site just a few hundred yards away from the original 29th and Broadway location. They dig up a foot of contaminated soil and place it in a trench and compact it, then clean soil is placed on top of that, and a road will be built over that layer.

“The road is going to cost us around $250 thousand dollars and and that’s going to be split up the cost of the road is going to be split up between the two primary property owners there and the city, a third each and then we’re gonna let the property owners pay it off over 15 years so it’s not a huge impact to them,” says Byers.

Although he can’t say who just yet, Byers says at least on large employer has agreed to build on some of the available acreage and should be open for business next year.

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