Cleaning up

EPA awards $300,000 grant to SMDC
By 
Deb Hill
News-Argus Managing Editor
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
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Cathy Barta

Last Wednesday EPA officials joined with staff from Lewistown’s Snowy Mountain Development Corporation for a virtual award ceremony during which they announced $300,000 for brownfields cleanup was awarded to SMDC. Brownfields programs take former commercial or industrial sites with environmental contamination and clean them up so they can be put to good use.
The funding is just the latest in the ongoing program of revolving loan funding administered through SMDC for cleaning up sites such as those with contaminated soil, asbestos, lead paint and other environmental issues. It was the only such funding awarded in the EPA’s Region 8, which includes Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and the Dakotas.
“This is just the latest in a series of grants awarded to SMDC,” said EPA Region 8 Administrator Gregory Sopkin. “The original grant was for $1 million. Since then we have awarded them over $2 million additional.”

“Some of the notable projects they have funded include cleaning up lead and asbestos in Roundup, removal of hazardous building materials at the Livingston Memorial Hospital, the Teslo grain elevator renovation in Livingston and now the Crowley Building and Eagles Manor in Lewistown.”
Cathy Barta, redevelopment director for SMDC, said the six-county region SMDC works in represents nearly a quarter of the state of Montana.
“We thank the EPA for having confidence in us and in our ability to manage these funds,” Barta said.
While brownfields projects are underway across the SMDC area, two local projects are of note.
“At the Crowley building we are looking at removal of asbestos, lead-based paint and light ballasts containing PCBs,” Barta said. “At Eagles Manor we are looking at doing a Phase 2 Environmental Site Analysis.”
The Phase 2 analysis will cover sampling of possible contaminants inside Eagles Manor, part of the plan to improve and modernize the building.
“We will see what exists and calculate the cost to remediate it,” she explained. “We are especially interested in the inside of the elevator shaft, as the plan is to add another elevator.”
The Crowley building, which will be remodeled to house the Central Montana Community Health Center, needs additional sampling.
“It’s taken a bit more time to get that project going because the owners are applying for historic tax credits,” Barta said. “The second and third floors are very well preserved, and the building is on the National Historic Register. They are working with High Plains Architects. Staying within the guidelines of historic renovation makes remediation more costly.”
Petroleum County may also have a project suitable for brownfields funding, Barta said. That project is the proposed Winnett Community Center. Three properties have been purchased on which to build the center. One of the three parcels has an old building on it that may need to be demolished.
There are 11 other projects in line for funding in other counties, she added.
Barta said SMDC is becoming known for its ability to undertake complicated brownfields cleanup grants.
“We serve a rural area,” Barta said. “But if you take that out and compare us with larger organizations working in more populated areas, we are one of the nation’s leaders in brownfields programs.
Her colleagues attribute much of this success to Barta’s tenacious attitude.
“Within six months [of joining SMDC], Cathy stepped into the leadership position of SMDC’s greatest revenue generator—brownfields. This complicated program is mired in the intricacies of real estate development, environmental law, engineering, lending, public policy, city and regional planning and economics.
“She ‘rocked it.’ This is evident in her recent success in securing the only supplemental grant award for revolving loan funds in Region VIII,” said Sara Hudson, SMDC regional director.
Anyone interested in learning more about brownfields programs can call Barta at 535-2591.

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