Input wanted from residents for Avtex

By Diane Hartson

Local residents will be able to push their ideas for creating a recreation and nature preserve area at the Avtex Fibers Superfund site Monday during a design workshop.

The workshop will begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Raymond Santmyers Youth Center on Eighth Street with an overview of the site and design alternatives.

At 4 p.m., participants will be taken on a tour of the proposed recreation area, then return to the center for sit-down design group work and conclude with presentations by the individual groups.

The workshop should end at about 7:30 p.m.

Officials said its crucial to have area residents take a hand in creating the design for the park area.

FMC Corp., the company responsible for the remaining cleanup at Avtex, has hired landscape architects from EDAW Inc. to develop the design.

yFMC has agreed to incorporate planned park features into any grading done when lagoons and basins are cleaned up and capped.

EDAW associate Jody Leidolf said that her company will conduct the workshop and encourages residents to participate.

"You really need community participation," she said. "We need to hear all different points of view what makes Front Royal special to people, what they would like to see in the park, what is not available in the community that they would like to see at the park."

Those who attend the workshop will be separated into small groups. Each group will sit down with an architect and "draw with us" on a map what theyd like to see in the park, he said.

"The idea is to let the public get excited about it, open up the design process and let them see how it works," Leidolf said.

Participants will be able to promote their priorities and see whether they will work, he said. The consultants already have conducted interviews with a number of local people to get their ideas for the park.

Those surveyed listed features they want to see and even suggested names for the park, ranging from "Front Royal Riverfront Park to "Poly Park" and "Dont Walk on Me Park."

The site has been on the federal Superfund list since 1986. Avtex closed the rayon plant in 1989.

The Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority expects to take ownership of the 500-acre site early next year. The eastern half will be developed into a mixed-use business park while the western half will be a recreation area and nature preserve.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spokesman Richard Kuhn said it is an exciting project for agency officials.

"This is not typical involvement in a Superfund site," he said. "There are only 10 sites across the county that have been designated as redevelopment sites. Its unique enough that Avtex is drawing a lot of attention from the environmental and remediation community across the nation."

Kuhn and Leidolf said they hoped people from all walks of life will go to the workshop.

"Here were giving the community a chance to decide how it looks when the

cleanup is done," Kuhn said. "EPA will eventually head off the site, The community has lived with Avtex for 70 years and it will continue to be a part of the community forever."

Leidolf said, "Were working to ensure that the identity of the community comes through and have that echoed in the park."

Kuhn said that those who are unable to participate in the workshop also can arrange individual interviews with EDAW officials to ensure that their ideas are considered in the design.

For more information, call (800) 553-2509.

Residents Priorities for Site

    • Hiking and walking.
    • Picnicking.
    • Biking.
    • Environmental demonstration area.
    • Fishing.
    • Birdwatching.
    • A multi-purpose field
    • Boating.
    • A nature walk.
    • Nature interpretation.
    • Organized sports.
    • Rollerblading.
    • Public art.
    • Industrial archaeology and history.
    • Horseback riding.
    • Skateboarding.