Brownfield sites in five communities will be first in line for restoration money, if Washington County is awarded a $600,000 grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
Wednesday was the deadline to apply for a U.S. EPA Brownfield Assessment grant, and Debora Sielski promised the county’s grant application “will be postmarked by the end of the day (Wednesday).”
She made that pledge to the County Board’s Planning, Conservation and Parks Committee on Wednesday afternoon.
The county formed a steering committee and Site Revitalization Coalition with the communities of Hartford, Jackson, Richfield, Slinger and West Bend to prepare this third attempt to get an assessment grant.
“I’ve been very impressed by the interest of the local communities,” Sielski said. The coalition identified 47 initial sites in the county where the money can be used to test if the brownfields, vacant industrial properties suspected of being contaminated, actually require expensive cleanup projects.
Five sites would get priority, Sielski said:
■ WB Place, Hartford, a former tannery on 3.8 acres with 1,300 feet of Rubicon River frontage;
■ Center Street Redevelopment Area, Jackson, 10 parcels in the historic center of the village;
■ Historic Highway 175, Richfield, 12 parcels between the highway and a railroad right-of-way;
■ Former Niphos Coating facility, Slinger, on Oak Street near the village’s downtown, where more than 8,800 gallons of hazardous chemicals had to be removed in the fall of 2012;
■ Former Praefke Brake and Supply Corp. site on Oak Street, and the O’Conner Yahr Oil site, West Bend.
About $200,000 would go to the five priority sites, Sielski said, with the remaining $400,000 used at the other 42 sites on the list.
The county’s first application for the grant in 2011-2012 was rejected, Sielski said, but EPA officials did offer advice on what needed to be improved for this second goround. Forming a steering committee and involving local municipalities were two EPA suggestions.
Removing suspicions about possible contamination or verifying and removing contamination would make these sites salable to potential development, Executive Director Christian Tscheschlok of the Economic Development Washington County said when the Site Revitalization Steering Committee was formed. He is on the committee.
Until that question is answered, he said, brownfield sites have little chance of being re-used. According to a 2006 state Department of Natural Resources survey, Washington County has at least 110 suspected sites that may be contaminated by petroleum or other industrial products.