Thursday, November 9, 2017

Idaho Falls to host discussion on 'brownfield' revitalization

This comes from the city of Toledo, Ohio, whose brownfield program has leveraged $14 million in grant money from federal, state, local and private funding sources for aiding development in five different locations.
The city of Idaho Falls is seeking to obtain a $600K grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to establish a brownfield revitalization program. Residents, business owners, and community organization members are invited to attend a presentation this afternoon from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Idaho Falls Public Library. 

Brownfields are vacant, abandoned or underutilized properties that have real or perceived environmental complications. Remediation and reinvesting in these properties takes development pressures off of undeveloped open land (“greenfields”) and protects human health and the environment as well as prevents urban sprawl.

In a request for proposals dated Sept. 22, Idaho Falls describes a plan to team up with the Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency and Bonneville Metropolitan Planning Organization, to address brownfield development opportunities.

The number and location of brownfields sites in Bonneville County is presently undetermined,
as well as the economic impact of these sites in depressing property values and hindering
redevelopment of high priority areas. One outcome of the U.S. EPA assessment grants, if
secured, will be to develop an inventory and other information related to these sites to allow
for more effective planning by the city and the coalition in furthering their assessment,
cleanup if necessary, and redevelopment.

EPA offers a sample analysis of a brownfield cleanup proposal that gives gives an "Anytown, U.S.A." example at this link: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-01/documents/abca_example_for_cleanup_proposals.pdf. Here's an excerpt:

b. Previous Site Use(s) and any previous cleanup/remediation

The Site was the former location of an automotive repair facility and scrap metal yard. The automotive repair facility was owned by Arnie’s Auto Repair and operated between 1957 to 1989 from an onsite 600 square foot, one story concrete building. Following the closure of the repair facility, the new owner, Marty’s Metals, used the northwest corner of the Site, an estimated ¼ acre area, as a scrap metal yard. Marty’s Metals operated until 1997, when it went bankrupt. All scrap metal was removed by Marty’s Metals at that time. In 2001, the Town of Smalltown (“the Town”) took ownership of the parcel due to unpaid taxes. The Town demolished the onsite building and secured the perimeter of the Site with 6-foot chain link fence in early 2003. An underground hydraulic lift used by the automotive repair facility was left in place at that time.

One small underground storage tank (UST), which previously housed hydraulic oil used to operate a hydraulic automobile lift, and the hydraulic lift were removed in fall of 2003 by the Town under state cleanup funds. The underground storage tank and hydraulic lift were steam cleaned and sent offsite for recycling at that time. Soils immediately surrounding the tank and lift were also excavated and transported offsite for disposal. At this time, the Site was entered into the state’s voluntary cleanup program and is tracked under State Tracking Number 123456. 

Discussion topics include:

  • What is a brownfield and where are they in Idaho Falls?
  • The impact brownfield sites have on the livelihood, health and welfare of our community.
  • Plans to transform blighted areas into healthy, viable spaces that enhance our neighborhoods and provide new employment opportunities.
  • How public involvement is key to the success of this program.
For more information, contact the Idaho Falls economic development coordinator, Dana Briggs, at (208) 612-8777 or email her at dbriggs@idahofallsidaho.gov.