AUGUST 20, 1999

Avtex redevelopment information on web site

By Richard Nash

People who want the latest information about the redevelopment and cleanup efforts at the Avtex Fibers Superfund site in Front Royal can turn to the Internet.

Judy Gretsch of Decision Quest Inc., one of the many agencies working on the former rayon plant’s redevelopment said the project’s state-of-the-art website, at , went online last week to make more information about Avtex available to the public.

"We know that lots of people are interested in what’s going on at Avtex," Ms. Gretsch said. "But because it’s a Superfund site, access is pretty limited. So we’re hoping that the website will be a good way of letting people see exactly what’s going on without anyone having to climb the fences and sneak in."

Although still in development, the Internet site is expected to include aerial photos and customized maps of Avtex, history and news articles about the property, links to websites for the Environmental Protection Agency, Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority and other groups involved in the cleanup, construction updates and minutes of Avtex Stakeholders Group meetings.

Ms. Gretsch said FMC Corp., which is spearheading the closure of several contaminated sulfite basins on the Avtex property, began working on an Internet presence for Avtex about three months ago.

FMC originally planned the site to be a place for technical advisers and other officials working on Avtex’s redevelopment to share large text files and maps of the property, she said. Such files are too cumbersome to send by mail, telephone or fax, so a website was the natural option, she said.

The site quickly evolved from a technological library into a place where anybody can get information, she said.

"I think we realized pretty quickly that there were going to be a lot of people, besides the technical people, who would have a real interest in an Avtex website," Ms. Gretsch said. " And we wanted to make it accessible and interesting to them, as well."

Bill Cutler of FMC said the website will evolve daily, with the redevelopment of the Avtex site, to keep the community involved in the process.

"The website is something that will keep the community informed of what’s going on at Avtex in a very convenient and timely, technologically advanced way," he said. "The traditional mode of getting the community involved in a project has been to send fliers to a mailing list and invite people out to meetings. Those methods can be very effective, but we think this will be even more effective."

Cutler said FMC hired Environmental Systems and Technology of Blacksburg to ensure that the Avtex website would be on the cutting edge of Internet technology. The company designed two versions of the website , standard and enhance, to accommodate a variety of computers an software, he said.

"We didn’t want to build a really dumb website, but, at the same time, we wanted the high end to be very technologically advanced," Cutler said. "So we went with two different versions."

The advanced version of the website requires users to download several shareware programs, including an interactive mapping program and Shockwave, which runs the websites animated graphics, he said. The program won’t cost users anything, but will take a few minutes to download, he said.

The standard version of the site should run on most any computer that has Internet access, he said.

" We want people to know as much about what’s going on at Avtex as possible," Cutler said.