by Bryan Smith
In February of 1996, the city of Springfield applied for a grant to perform brownfield studies.
They didn't get it.
Two years later, the city may be reapplying for another grant, which would allow the study of the site of the proposed Civic Park.
The term "brownfield" refers to land that may have been contaminated with industrial pollutants. Past industrial operations located along the Jordan Creek corridor are suspected of having left some contaminants behind. A brownfield study would determine if that is the case, to what extent the area is polluted and give an idea of what it would cost to remediate the site.
Aug. 6 and 7, Economic Development Coordinator Mary Lilly Smith and City Planner Vern Morgan attended a conference in Denver, Colo., to discuss brownfield studies and how to obtain grants to finance them.
The two returned to Springfield with plans to pursue another grant.
Smith said that, while they could not definitely say that they would reapply, she is making a proposal to City Manager Tom Finnie to pursue a grant.
The grant would be used to perform brownfield studies on the Jordan Creek area. The boundaries for this property echo those of the proposed Civic Park.
Springfield first applied for a grant in 1996 after studying the application process the previous year. The grant, administered by the Environmental Protection Agency, was for $200,000.
David Knight, who served as the city's economic development coordinator at the time, performed a study and applied for the grant.
"It's a highly competitive grant, so you're competing for grants across the country," Knight said.
Chuck Marinec, the grants administrator for the city, said Springfield might have been shut out of the grant competition if the land's contamination was not considered to be as bad as that of other cities that applied.
"Springfield probably didn't have the extensive contamination that other cities may have had," Marinec said.
That doesn't necessarily mean that the Jordan Creek area is contaminated. Because of its past usage, it is property that could be contaminated. It is also land that has potential to be redeveloped.
"The definition of brownfields could be land that is contaminated or perceived to be contaminated," Marinec said. "Until you do the studies, you really don't know."
The city had plans to study that area before Civic Park was proposed.
"We knew we wanted to do some open space improvements to that area," Knight said.
In June of 1996, 20 cities were awarded brownfield grants. Those cities included Atlanta, Ga.; Kansas City; San Francisco, Calif.; and Miami, Fla.
In October, 16 more cities were awarded grants. Most of those cities submitted applications at the same time as Springfield. Those cities included Cincinnati, Ohio; Salt Lake City, Utah; Oakland, Calif.; and New Haven, Conn.
Of the 36 cities that received grants, only two are in Region VII, where Missouri is located. Kansas City received a grant in June, while Bonne Terre, in St. Francois County, received a grant in October.
Knight and an intern worked on the grant process in 1995 before applying.
"It was a good grant application," Knight said. "It's just that brownfields are a competitive grant."
Marinec and Smith both said reapplying for the grant is under consideration.
And if the city again fails to receive a grant from the EPA, it will postpone the study of the site until the city can find other ways to finance the study.
"If we don't get the grant, then we'll start looking at alternative methods," Marinec said.
The cost of the study is hard to determine, because there's not really a way to know what needs to be done.
"They vary widely from site to site," Marinec said. "There's no way to estimate unless we know what's involved."
Economic Development Coordinator Mary Lilly Smith is recommending that the city reapply for the EPA grant.[[In-content Ad]]
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