SMDC hosts Brownfields tour

Brownsfield Program members assess a potentially contaminated property, the Broadway Apartments. Karen Sweeney (second from left) and Kathie Bailey (not in photo) from Snowy Mountain Development Corporation led the tour for EPA, DEQ and other officials.

Photo courtesy of Carly Wheatley

Recently, Snowy Mountain Development Corporation’s Kathie Bailey and Karen Sweeney hosted Brownfields officials from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, and the Montana Business Assistance Connection. Earlier this year, SMDC was awarded a grant through EPA to provide assessments of potentially contaminated properties. This allows SMDC to assess eight properties across its six-county region (Fergus, Petroleum, Musselshell, Wheatland, Golden Valley and Judith Basin counties) to determine if contaminants are present. SMDC currently identifies and prioritizes potential Brownfields assessment projects.

The attendees were here to see firsthand, and to discuss, SMDC’s successes with existing Brownfields programs, potential future resources, and the opportunity SMDC has with its newly awarded assessment grant.

Greg Davis, the new area Brownfields Program coordinator for EPA said SMDC continues, “utilizing all the resources possible.”

Jason Seyler, the Brownfields coordinator for DEQ said, “We love working with the partners here in Lewistown and working on a lot of different unique sites for the betterment of the community.”

According to the EPA, “brownfield is a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.”

Some examples of contaminants include petroleum products, asbestos and lead-based paint. SMDC works with commercial property and building owners to identify and secure funding assistance for the testing and potential mitigation of these kinds of contaminants. Because of the high costs attributed to contaminants testing and cleanup, the EPA and DEQ Brownfields Programs are vital to redevelopment of a property.

The tour included sites that have used EPA and/or DEQ funds for either assessments or cleanups and potential Brownfields sites. Some of the properties toured were mitigated and redeveloped while others started the process of cleanup, or are assessed to determine if contaminants are present.

The Broadway apartment was one stop on the tour and recently used EPA funds for targeted Brownfields assessment. After the assessment was complete, it was determined that contaminants were found in the building. For redevelopment to occur, cleanup is required. The group discussed potential assistance that could be available for a developer of that property.

The tours also included the Draft Horse Barn at the Fergus County Fairgrounds (once a Brownfields site due to the lead-based paint on the windows and doors). The contaminants in the barn were remediated and the barn was redeveloped into a functional space for exhibits and community events.

To learn more about the Brownfields Program, please contact SMDC’s Karen Sweeney at 535-2591.

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