Success stories

City of Oshkosh Completes Last Phase of Riverfront Brownfields Cleanup

In June 2017, the city of Oshkosh received the final Wisconsin DNR approval of the remediation of the former Mercury Marine facility on the Fox River. In 2006, the city acquired the closed facility from Mercury Marine with hopes to convert the property into a new and improved community asset. The city used EPA brownfields grants for assessment and cleanup work on the properties as well as state, city, and private funding.

Oshkosh Riverwalk

A new riverwalk provides additional community access to the waterfront.

This property housed industrial facilities since the mid-1800s. Past uses of the land include a lumber business, candle company, and a bulk fuel tank farm. The site was then owned by the Kiekhaefer Aeromarine Company who then sold it to Mercury Marine in the mid-1970s. A range of contamination types were identified at the site as well as several feet of waste fill across the entire property. Metals, petroleum contamination, and chlorinated compounds were identified in the soil and groundwater.

The city removed much of the contamination while using buildings and parking lots to serve as a cover over the residual contaminated soil. In addition, the cleanup included an innovative approach where they left one area of heavily contaminated soil under a newly created, city owned, small park. This park serves as a protective barrier, saves project funds and creates additional public green space. This park connects to a new public riverwalk and piers along the river. The city partnered with a private developer to build three high quality apartment buildings, two specifically for senior residents. The site went through the DNR’s Voluntary Party Liability Exemption (VPLE) program and received a Certificate of Completion in August 2017 which provides liability protections for current and future property owners.

City of Manitowoc Receives EPA Brownfields Award

The cleanup and redevelopment of the former Mirro Aluminum factories in Manitowoc recently garnered the city an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) brownfields award during the recent National Brownfields Conference, held December 5-7 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Award recipients

Receiving the EPA award is Nicolas Sparacio from the city of Manitowoc. He is flanked by Michael Prager, RR Program Land Recycling Team Leader, Margaret Guerriero and Yolanda Bouchee-Cureton, both from the EPA.

The EPA recognized the city for its outstanding efforts to clean up and redevelop two former factories that the city was left with when the Mirro Aluminum Co. closed its manufacturing plants in Manitowoc in 2003. Through persistence and hard work, the city has been successful in transforming the former Mirro Plant No. 3 into loft apartments targeted towards the veteran community and artists. In addition, the city achieved a huge milestone by completing the demolition of the massive Mirro Plant No. 9 and preparing the land for development.

The Wisconsin DNR’s RR Program assisted with Manitowoc’s Mirro cleanups by providing both financial and technical assistance. A summary of the Mirro apartments project can be found in the Program’s 128a Mid-Year Report for 2015-2016.

To learn how RR staff can help with your community’s revitalization efforts, contact your regional Land Recycling team member and request a “Green Team” meeting.

“All Aboard!” Spooner’s Historic Roundhouse Revival

Spooner Roundhouse

Contaminated soils from around the Roundhouse were excavated and hauled off site to the old Spooner Landfill. The Roundhouse area was then capped and seeded. This area will be used for a public space. Spooner will be renovating the Roundhouse as a public space.

The city of Spooner, located in northwestern Wisconsin, pop. 2,700, has a rich railroad heritage. The city’s origin and colorful history is rooted in the railroad expansion of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Spooner was an important railroad center of the Chicago and North Western Railway for many years. A historic railway roundhouse, a surviving turntable, and other aspects of the original rail yard still exist. The Spooner roundhouse is one of the few remaining structures of its kind.

Several local and state organizations have collaborated for years on efforts to clean up environmental contamination and preserve this unique and historic landmark property. The land is in the “Museum District” which also includes the Railroad Memories Museum and the Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum. The Roundhouse property includes one of the only working turntables in the state. The Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad operates active tracks on the site.

Remediated dirt

The regulatory issues involved in this project were handled through a collaboration of the Wisconsin DNR’s R&R and Waste and Materials Management programs. The excavated soils were placed at the old Spooner Landfill and used as part of a recapping project. The contaminated soils remaining at the site were capped and seeded.

Many years of railroad activities and subsequent manufacturing uses led to concerns about possible environmental contamination on the property. Section 128(a) funding from the EPA contributed to several successful Green Team project meetings with the Wisconsin DNR, the city of Spooner, and other stakeholders. Section 128(a) funds also supported the Wisconsin DNR’s efforts to counsel the city on managing environmental liability and other communications with the city. Spooner further received Phase I ESA contractor services through the Wisconsin DNR’s Wisconsin Assessments Money (WAM) program, funded by the EPA ARC Assessment grants, prior to its acquisition of the roundhouse property.

Contaminated soils from around the roundhouse were excavated and disposed of at the old city landfill, as part of a recapping project. The roundhouse property was then capped and seeded. The property will be open to the public, and the city of Spooner is also renovating the roundhouse as a public space.

Roundhouse turntable

The Roundhouse property includes one of the only working turntables in the state.

The success of this northern Wisconsin cleanup site is highlighted in the recent year-end Report, a summary of the outcomes funded by a Section 128(a) grant from the US EPA made to the Wisconsin DNR’s Brownfields program. Previous 128(a) reports, including mid-year and year-end summaries going back to 2012, can be found on the DNR’s RR Program web page.

 

Brownfields Success: West Milwaukee

With the “snick” of a ceremonial scissor, the new Burnham Business Center officially opens for business in West Milwaukee. This former Auto Paradise site has a long history as a carriage and cartage company, going back to the early 1900s. Most recently, the site was used to disassemble cars, stripping them of all usable pieces before recycling the remaining parts.

Burnham Business Center

A portion of the new, 83,000 square foot Burnham Business Center along W. Burnham Street in West Milwaukee. The facility recently opened after guidance from the DNR’s Remediation and Redevelopment program.

The DNR’s Remediation and Redevelopment Program in the Southeast Region started guiding the cleanup investigation back in February of 2016. With an approved remediation plan in place, the SER team is now evaluating plans for long-term groundwater monitoring. The site is currently in the DNR’s VPLE program, a process by which an individual, business or unit of government, can voluntarily conduct an environmental investigation and cleanup of a property and then receive limits on their liability for historical contamination on that property.

The new 83,000 sq. ft. light industrial facility has eight tractor-trailer bays which facilitates the cross-transfer of a variety of products. As part of the site development, work crews also conducted a stream bank improvement project, where the banks of this unnamed stream were hardened and properly re-sloped.

 The ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the new facility was held October 24.

DNR Brownfields Report of Annual Accomplishments Now Available

The Remediation and Redevelopment Program’s annual report to the US EPA of brownfields accomplishments, which details a year-long effort of outputs and outcomes funded by a federal grant, is now available online. The Section 128(a) Grant Final Accomplishments Report, for the reporting period of September 1, 2016 to August 31, 2017, highlights work completed in the previous funding year.

The “128(a) Final Report” includes a summary of the various metrics tracked during the year (Green Team meetings, outreach activities, etc.), highlights a number of successful cleanups and redevelopments from across the state, and features a number of important program improvements undertaken during the year.

Previous 128(a) reports can be found on the Brownfields Program web page.

 

Redevelopment Successes Detailed in Reports

Report Covers

The RR Program details the various activities undertaken and achieved throughout the year through the biannual Section 128(a) Report.

For nearly 15 years, the Remediation and Redevelopment Program has worked under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to enhance state efforts with the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields. As part of the agreement, the RR Program details the various activities undertaken and achieved throughout the year and makes those efforts available to the public through the biannual Section 128(a) Report. These reports can be found on the Brownfields Program webpage and we invite you to have a look. Recent reports detail redevelopment sites in Manitowoc and Madison, highlight video projects, recognize staff efforts, and recognize our external partners for helping guide program efforts.  

 

Certificate of Completion Issued for Large Madison Brownfield

Sign at Royster Clark Property with contact information and list of financial supporters.

The Royster Clark project benefited from several financial incentives including the DNR’s Ready for Reuse program.

After more than 200 environmental reports and approvals over the course of ten years, the Wisconsin DNR issued a final Certificate of Completion for the former Royster-Clark facility in Madison. The Certificate of Completion was issued in March 2017 when the Wisconsin DNR approved the final investigation and remedial action and provided a liability exemption through the Voluntary Party Liability Exemption (VPLE) program.

The 27 acre Royster-Clark facility was once a fertilizer factory operating from 1952 until it closed in 2006. In 2011, Ruedebusch Development and Construction (RDC), a Madison-based real estate developer, purchased the property and took on the task of cleanup and redevelopment of the unique project.

The cleanup included contamination from leaking underground storage tanks and the excavation of more than 50,000 tons of nitrogen-contaminated soil removed from the site. The property went through extensive meetings, planning and approvals from the neighborhood association and the city of Madison. The redevelopment, some of which is already complete, includes affordable housing, market rate apartments, and commercial development, including a new public library branch and potential grocery store. The project also includes 50+ lots ready for single family homes.

The cleanup project benefited from several financial incentives including the Wisconsin DNR’s Ready for Reuse program, which is funded through a RLF brownfields grant from the EPA, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation grants, and funding from the city of Madison.

FY 16-17 Remediation and Redevelopment Program 128(a) Mid-Year Report Complete

Mid Year Report 128a FY 16-17 Cover

The DNR submits reports twice a year to EPA on the use of brownfields grant funds to enhance its state response program and to fulfill public record requirements.

The RR Program’s mid-year report to the EPA, which details outputs and outcomes funded by a federal grant, is now available for review. The Section 128(a) Grant Mid-Year Report, for the reporting period of September 1, 2016 to February 28, 2017, highlights work completed in the first half of the funding year.

Since 2003, the RR Program has consistently and efficiently used these funds under a cooperative agreement with the EPA to enhance state efforts with brownfields cleanup and redevelopment. Previous reports can be found on the Brownfields Program web page.

 

DNR Secretary Tours Merrill Brownfields

Merrill Brownfields Tour

In the photo are (L to R): Christine Haag, DNR; David Johnson, City of Merrill; Ken Maule, Merrill Area Development Corporation; DNR Sec. Stepp; John Robinson, DNR; Marie Steenlage, WEDC; Gary Hartwig, Merrill Area Development Corporation; Tim Weber, WEDC; John Gozdzialski, DNR.

Wisconsin DNR Sec. Cathy Stepp (center) leads a “Cabinet on the Road” tour of Merrill, Wis. The group paused for a photo in front of the River Bend Trail, a bicycling and walking path that winds its way along the Wisconsin River and passes through a handful of brownfield cleanup sites that the City and DNR have teamed up to address, including the former Hurd Manufacturing property.

Gov. Scott Walker kicked off the Cabinet on the Road series last July as a way for the administration to hear directly from citizens about important matters affecting their communities.

DNR Brownfields “Annual Accomplishments” Report Available

The RR Program’s annual brownfields accomplishments report to US EPA, which details outputs and outcomes funded by a federal grant, is now available. The Section 128(a) Grant Final Accomplishments Report, for the reporting period of September 1, 2015 to August 31, 2016, highlights work completed in past the funding year. Since 2003, the RR Program has consistently and efficiently used these funds to enhance state efforts with brownfields cleanup and redevelopment.

Previous 128(a) reports can be found on the Brownfields Program webpage.