Local governments

Demolitions Done Right

Redeveloping old commercial and industrial properties often involves the demolition of buildings and other structures. In addition to carefully evaluating potential asbestos abatement and demolition contractors, the DNR recommends reviewing the agency’s “demolition, construction and renovation” web page to access important information about statutory and regulatory requirements related to demolition activities. Asbestos, lead, mercury and PCBs are top concerns.

Two key publications include, WA-651: Planning your demolition or renovation project, and AM-366: What you need to know about renovation and demolition.

Completion and submittal of Form 4500-113: Notification for Demolition and/or Renovation is always required, at least 10 days prior to the demolition work.

US EPA Can Help Remove Contaminants at Abandoned Properties

The US EPA can help your community take care of abandoned or otherwise derelict properties that contain drums, barrels and other containers filled with hazardous substances. EPA staff will evaluate the site, analyze the chemicals and search for anyone involved in abandoning or disposing of the hazardous materials on the property.

If a responsible party is located, EPA will work with them to remove and clean up the hazardous materials. If no responsible party is found or the party is unable to complete the work, EPA may directly perform actions needed to address imminent threats. EPA seeks cost recovery from responsible parties whenever appropriate.

At smaller sites, municipalities can conduct the response action themselves and recover costs from EPA through the Local Governments Reimbursement Program. Reimbursement can include such costs as materials and supplies, renting or leasing equipment, special technical and laboratory services, evacuation services, decontamination of equipment, overtime pay for employees, and replacement of equipment that is lost or destroyed.

Contact John Sager, Federal Removals Coordinator at DNR, to see if a property in your community may be eligible for EPA assistance. His phone number is (715) 392-7822, and his email address is John.Sager@wisconsin.gov.

“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.

Milwaukee to Use DNR Brownfield Assessment Funds at Inner Harbor Property

Milwaukee's Inner Harbor

A WAM grant will help repurpose a century-old coal storage site at Milwaukee’s inner harbor as part of a continuing effort to improve this gateway to the city.
Photo Credit: US Army Corps of Engineers

Efforts to repurpose a century-old coal storage site at Milwaukee’s inner harbor will get a boost from a recently issued Department of Natural Resources brownfields award.

The award comes from the DNR’s Wisconsin Assessment Monies (WAM) program, and will provide for contractor services worth approximately $25,000. The work will help Milwaukee – specifically the Redevelopment Authority of the City of the Milwaukee (RACM) – assess potential contamination, leading to eventual remediation and redevelopment of the prime waterfront site.

The nearly 14-acre site on Greenfield Avenue is located across the street from the UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences and is currently a vacant lot that had historically housed fuel oil tanks. Over the years, fill material has been used to shore up a nearby dock wall and fill in a former boat slip.

“The DNR is honored to be a part of the future of this site,” said Christine Haag, chief of the DNR’s brownfields program. “Assessing this property for historic contamination is an important first step to the development of this waterfront property, which has so much potential given its location on Milwaukee’s Inner Harbor near the Freshwater Sciences building.”

Administered by the DNR’s Remediation and Redevelopment Program, WAM awards provide communities with professional environmental site assessments of properties with known or perceived contamination.

Participation in the WAM program requires minimal effort by local governments. Because there is no financial match or project administration involved, the award is an attractive opportunity for communities. In many instances, WAM awards are leveraged with other sources of funding to kick-start repurposing efforts on properties that may have been underutilized for many years.

Applications can be submitted for WAM awards at any time. Properties eligible for funding include closed or closing manufacturing plants, or vacant land with a history of manufacturing. Gas stations, dry cleaners and salvage yards are not eligible.

Community Redevelopment Toolbox

The latest version of ASTWMO’s Toolbox for Community Redevelopment, “A beginner’s guide to contaminated property redevelopment,” offers a five-step process to help local governments better understand the basic process of identification, assessment, investigation and cleanup.Clip Art

The Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials, Inc., (ASTSWMO), is a national organization founded in 1974. Its mission is to enhance and promote effective state programs and to affect relevant national policies for waste and materials management, environmentally sustainable practices, and environmental restoration.

The toolbox and examples are not Wisconsin-specific, but include good, basic information for anyone interested in cleanup and redevelopment issues.

CDFA Brownfields Financing Webinar Hazardous to Healthy: Financing Solutions for Recovering Brownfields

Join CDFA, technical partners, and experienced brownfield communities for a discussion on the financial strategies that restored hazardous properties for healthy reuse on August 31 at 1:00 PM Central Time. This webcast is designed for professionals who work directly with brownfield sites as well as economic development finance professionals and communities interested in shaping programs to enhance redevelopment financing opportunities. Click here to confirm your participation and receive login information. Registration is free and open to all interested stakeholders.

Wisconsin Communities Receive $1.8M in EPA Brownfields Awards for FY17

Money stack clip artA handful of Wisconsin communities, counties and entities will put to use recent brownfields awards from the US EPA. The awards are for assessment or cleanup activities and are part of the 279 awards given to communities across the nation, totaling $56.8 million.

These Assessment and Cleanup Grants, in Wisconsin and elsewhere, will aid under-served communities through the assessment and cleanup of abandoned industrial and commercial properties and expand the ability of communities to recycle vacant and abandoned properties for new, productive reuses.

Recipient Assessment / Cleanup Award Amount
Blugold Real Estate Foundation, Inc. (Eau Claire) Cleanup $200,000
Blugold Real Estate Foundation, Inc. (Eau Claire) Cleanup $200,000
Green Bay Assessment $300,000
Sheboygan County Assessment $300,000
Washington County Assessment $600,000
Wauwatosa Assessment $200,000

The US EPA has a list of all FY17 grants selected for funding, as well as a searchable database and fact sheets of all selected applicants.

Leveraging Resources for Brownfields Revitalization: Meet the Funders – Economic Development Webinar Recording Available

Are you a local government representative searching for brownfield funding? Wondering what federal brownfield financial assistance is available beyond the EPA? In this webinar, Leveraging Resources for Brownfields Revitalization: Meet the Funders – Economic Development, you will hear from federal agencies such as the US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, US Dept. of Agriculture-Rural Development and the US Economic Development Administration (part of US Dept. of Commerce), about practical and immediately useful information about the type of funding available and how to apply for it.