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Steve Meyer: Heat from the landfill could power a commercial greenhouse.
Steve Meyer: Heat from the landfill could power a commercial greenhouse.

Council OKs environmental grant applications

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Springfield City Council members cleaned up their agenda before the Memorial Day holiday by approving a grant application to cover the cost of an environmental cleanup.

Council called a May 26 lunch meeting to consider items that would have come up at its regularly scheduled meetin on June 1, which will not take place due to holiday conflicts.

One of those bills asked council members to approve a $400,000 grant application to clean up a downtown Springfield property the city hopes to purchase.

The property at 1420 W. College St. is adjacent to the city-owned Jordan Valley West Meadows and has been part of a series of area environmental assessments conducted in anticipation of a flood reduction and stream restoration project.

Environmental tests show the property is contaminated with petroleum, and the city’s Planning and Development Department would like to apply for a grant from the state’s Environmental Improvement & Energy Resources Authority to cover cleanup costs.

“This property adds value to Jordan Valley West Meadows and has benefit to storm-water management and to water quality in general,” Mayor Jim O’Neal said.

The College Street property is owned by Tom Ehlers, who operates a concrete-casting business called Stone Effects. Ehlers uses the 1,800-square-foot building on three-fourths of an acre as a studio and stores concrete products on the back lot, he said.

Ehlers acknowledged preliminary discussions with the city about the sale of the property and is willing to consider an offer, he said, noting the next step would be to have the site appraised.

Council approved the grant application 5-1, but not before councilwoman Cindy Rushefsky voiced concern about the private ownership of the property.

“My concern is that we end up cleaning up the spot and it increases the value, and he winds up selling to someone other than us,” she said.

Vern Morgan, grants administrator in Planning and Development, assured council that the city would purchase the property before performing the cleanup.

“If we’re awarded the grant, we will purchase the property,” Morgan said, noting that the grant could be used to clean up other properties if the sale does not go through.

According to Olivia Hough, senior planner and brownfields coordinator for the city, the funds to purchase the property would come from the Public Works Department’s Storm Water Acquisition Fund.

A new use for wasted heat
Council also approved a grant application to help fund research into using heat produced by the Noble Hill Landfill Renewable Energy Center to power a commercial greenhouse. Currently, the heat is considered waste heat, said Steve Meyer, assistant director of Public Works.

“We have two engines that produce heat that is now vented into the atmosphere,” he said. “We would get a venting system to move the heat from the engines to a greenhouse.”

The $40,000 grant from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, matched with $20,000 from the Solid Waste Enterprise Fund, would look at the feasibility of building a 35,000-square-foot greenhouse and directing the waste heat to the site.

The greenhouse itself would be a public-private partnership, Meyer said, in which the city would build and select a private agency to operate it. The project would be modeled after a commercial greenhouse by Burlington, Penn.-based Northern Tier Solid Waste Authority. Its greenhouse cost $400,000 to build and was paid off in three years, he said.

Details, including the public-private arrangement and construction funding, would be determined during the study, Meyer said.

The bill passed 5-1.[[In-content Ad]]

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