Ready for Reuse

Brownfields Fundamentals: DNR’s Ready For Reuse Program Can Fund Your Community’s Environmental Cleanup Project

If you’re a local government professional but haven’t played a role in the environmental cleanup and redevelopment of a blighted property, the term “brownfield” may not be completely familiar. But chances are good that there’s one or more of them in your community.

By definition, a brownfield is a former industrial or commercial site where future use is affected by real or perceived environmental contamination. In your community, that may be a shuttered gas station on Main Street, or a former lumber or textile mill on the edge of town. It’s the site you often drive past and think to yourself, “We should do something about that. That property has potential.”

To be sure, most land in communities – large or small – is not contaminated and is suited for development. But even perceived environmental contamination can present barriers to land reuse. It is important to know that even when land does have environmental contamination, it often can be cleaned up and redeveloped at a reasonable cost and in a timely manner.

Redeveloping brownfield properties helps protect public health, reduces blight and enhances community safety. In many cases, it also creates jobs, generates local tax revenues, and may have positive impacts on nearby commercial and residential development.

Among the variety of resources and assistance that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) can bring to the table to help towns and cities across the state address brownfield cleanup and redevelopment challenges is the DNR’s Ready for Reuse program.

Ready for Reuse is a program managed by the DNR and funded through a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant. Since the DNR began offering the program in 2004, Ready for Reuse has funded 39 cleanup projects in Wisconsin to the tune of more than $11 million in awards. Ready for Reuse can be an attractive funding option for many projects, with flexible repayment schedules, no interest terms, and the possibility of 30-percent loan forgiveness.

Ready for Reuse offers financial assistance to local governments, tribes and non-profits at brownfield sites that are currently going through the Wis. Admin. Code NR chs. 700-799 cleanup process. Ready for Reuse can also be leveraged at sites that previously received case closure with the DNR but have residual contamination that needs to be managed during construction.

The DNR’s redevelopment specialists welcome the opportunity to meet with you and your key partners to discuss issues, answer questions and give everyone a better understanding of how the DNR can partner with your community to help reach your redevelopment goals. DNR staff offer expert advice regarding environmental liability protections, regulatory processes and financial award programs available for the investigation, remediation and redevelopment of a contaminated property.

To find out if a Ready for Reuse loan is right for your community, or other ways that the DNR can assist with your cleanup and redevelopment efforts, reach out to request a Green Team meeting.

DNR Awards Brownfields Grant To Village Of Johnson Creek

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced the department awarded a Brownfields Grant to the Village of Johnson Creek.

The financial award is from the DNR’s Wisconsin Assessment Monies program, which provides contractor services worth up to $35,000 for the environmental assessment and cleanup of eligible brownfields sites.

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Wausau Riverfront Redevelopment: Grant Funding Assists in Completion of Riverfront Corridor

In late 2013, the city of Wausau received $151,171 in Ready for Reuse grant funding through Wisconsin DNR’s 104(k) revolving loan fund grant for a cleanup at 1010 North 1st Street. The property, one in a string of parcels, was identified along the Wisconsin River as part of a comprehensive riverfront redevelopment strategy. Since then, extensive work along the river corridor has occurred with the goal of bringing business and public access to what was once underused riverfront property.

The site’s history includes lumber production, manufacturing, scrap iron, and automobile parking and storage. The 3.9-acre property is one of six contiguous former industrial riverfront properties totaling 16 acres adjacent to the Wisconsin River that are planned for commercial, residential and/or recreational mixed use redevelopment known as the Riverfront Redevelopment Area.

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Annual Report Details Northern Wisconsin Cleanup

A vacant industrial lot in the heart of Ashland, just a few blocks from Lake Superior, is now poised for redevelopment with the help of two section 104(k) cleanup subgrants totaling $400,000 from Wisconsin’s revolving loan fund, known as Ready for Reuse.

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.

The former Roffers property was once the site of a railroad roundhouse in the late 1800s. At that time, the grounds were used for coal storage. Later, it became the site of the Ruth Manufacturing Company saw mill and lumber yard. In the 1950s, Roffers Construction operated on the site and did so until 2007. Additional buildings on the property also housed various businesses over the last century, including a flour mill, a grocery wholesaler warehouse, and the headquarters of a local general contractor.

These past uses brought widespread PAH contamination that was excavated and used to mitigate a subsidence issue at a closed city landfill through a cross-program effort at the Wisconsin DNR. This alternate disposal location gave the city an inexpensive option for bringing the landfill back into compliance while also providing a greener remedial alternative to the substantial transportation distance and cost of hauling the material to the nearest open landfill in this rural, remote area of the state.

Currently, the city is working with a promising development proposal for a mixed use, walkable residential and commercial space with integrated park and greenspace. By proposing a mix of single and multi-family dwellings with small footprints and affordable pricing adjacent to commercial incubator space, the development aims to appeal to new graduates of the local college.

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.

 

 

Ready for Reuse Assistance Available for Brownfields Cleanup

Funds from the Ready for Reuse program are used for environmental cleanup of hazardous substances or petroleum at brownfields throughout Wisconsin. Funds are available in the form of zero-interest loans with flexible payback options and grants in limited circumstances. As the name implies, Ready for Reuse dollars can only be used on sites that are ready to begin cleanup activities and have adequate funding in place to finish the cleanup.

There are some specific requirements related to Ready for Reuse dollars. It’s strongly recommended that you speak with program administrator Gena Larson to learn if your project qualifies for funding before beginning to work on your application.

For more information about Ready for Reuse, including eligibility requirements:

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.