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Cleanup for polluted complex

Published February 15, 2004

LARGO - Redevelopment, at no cost to Pinellas, is the county's goal regarding an unused, partially contaminated area of the Young-Rainey Science, Technology and Research Center.

Under a state environmental clean-up initiative known as the Brownfields Redevelopment Act, developers can receive financial incentives for cleaning up polluted areas and revitalizing them. Brownfields are properties in which real or perceived contamination can hinder use or redevelopment.

If efforts to designate the 96-acre complex at 7887 Bryan Dairy Road as a Brownfields site succeed, Pinellas County will have snagged its first piece of the government-funded redevelopment pie that Clearwater and St. Petersburg have enjoyed for several years, said Buzz David, director of the county's economic development office.

"We're following their lead," David said. "Brownfields promote redevelopment opportunities. ... All this does is enhance our ability to attract businesses there."

Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg and a Publix shopping center and townhome complex in Clearwater rank among the two cities' Brownfields sites.

County commissioners must host at least two public hearings educating citizens about what the Brownfields designation will mean.

The second of three public hearings is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the county courthouse in Clearwater.

In its former life, the STAR Center was a U.S. Department of Energy plant that produced components for nuclear weapons.

Chemicals buried in steel drums nearly 25 feet underground leaked, resulting in groundwater contamination of a currently undeveloped five-acre plot on the complex, said Paul Sacco, the center's administrator.

The now-defunct Pinellas County Industry Council bought the park in March 1995 for $2.6-million. The complex is now owned and operated by Pinellas County.

[Last modified February 15, 2004, 01:15:45]

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