Montana Development Corporations Receive $1 million in Brownfields Redevelopment Funding
Supplemental Funding will Help Clean Up Contaminated Properties and Support Economic Opportunity in Montana Communities
HELENA—The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Great Northern Development Corporation (GNDC), and Snowy Mountain Development Corporation (SMDC) are pleased to announce the EPA has awarded a total of $1 million in brownfields redevelopment funding to two Montana community economic develop corporations. GNDC and SMDC were two of 27 awardees nationwide and each will receive $500,000 in supplemental Revolving Loan Funds (RLF) to cleanup and redevelop contaminated brownfield properties in Poplar, Jordan, Baker, Glendive, Helena, Winnett, Roundup, Townsend, Lewistown and other communities across Central and Eastern Montana.
Brownfields are properties, often vacant or underutilized, where perceived or known contamination from previous use complicates redevelopment and reuse. DEQ supports brownfields cleanup for properties with petroleum and other hazardous materials contamination across the state by providing technical and financial expertise, grant writing assistance and outreach and workshops for interested communities as well as oversight of brownfields projects to ensure that cleanup goals are met.
Brownfields RLF Grants provide funding for communities to issue loans and sub-grants for cleanup activities at brownfield sites. When loans are repaid, the loan amount is returned into the fund and re-lent to other borrowers, providing an ongoing source of capital within a community. The RLF programs at GNDC and SMDC have awarded a combined $4.4 million in loans and grants since they began.
“The success of brownfields redevelopment is dependent upon partnerships at the federal, state, and local level. These supplemental grants are recognition of the excellent programs that GNDC and SMDC have built,” said Jason Seyler, Montana DEQ brownfields coordinator. “DEQ looks forward to partnering with communities in their efforts to revitalize properties and spur economic development.”
DEQ has partnered with SMDC on brownfields redevelopment projects since 2009. For example, Livingston’s iconic Teslow grain elevator was slated for demolition after a severe windstorm blew off a portion of the roof and damaged the highhouse in January 2016. Local residents quickly rallied support to form the Teslow Preservation Group, a 501(c)(3), to try to avoid losing a building so crucial to their town’s history and skyline DEQ assisted with the hazardous building materials assessment on the Teslow. This assessment found asbestos in the elevator grain belts and elevated arsenic concentrations in dust samples. The Teslow Preservation Group was able to properly address these hazards with RLF funds from SMDC. This collaborative brownfields assistance allowed the Teslow Preservation group to complete abatement activities in February off 2021, which paves the way for potential re-use of the property.
SMDC and its Central Montana Brownfields Coalition will use the newly awarded supplemental funding for cleanup loans and sub-grants throughout 11 counties in central Montana. Projects include the Petroleum County Community Center in Winnett, which will serve as a community event center and senior center, the redevelopment of the Stockman Bar in Roundup for beneficial reuse, and the expansion of an existing medical chiropractic facility in the Lewistown Annex located in historic downtown Lewistown. “SMDC is excited to receive the EPA Brownfields Supplemental Funding, which will allow us to strengthen our partnerships with EPA and Montana Department of Environmental Quality for the opportunity to see several important community development projects through completion,” said SMDC Redevelopment Director Cathy Barta.
In northeastern Montana, DEQ has partnered with GNDC to complete excavation of petroleum contaminated soils at the former Butch’s Exxon Service Station in Poplar. This high visibility site is located on HWY 2 across the street from Poplar High School. DEQ helped secure funding to clean up contamination at the site and protect public health after the onsite gas station burned to the ground in 2012, leaving an eyesore and numerous corroding barrels of waste oil. Utilizing an RLF loan from GNDC to manage cleanup costs with little out of pocket expense, a new property owner is planning to redevelop the site into a carwash. The new business will be an asset to the community, provide employment opportunities and add to the local tax base.
"We are excited to receive this additional funding for our RLF as it will allow the Eastern Montana Brownfields Coalition to continue our redevelopment work in 15 counties in Eastern Montana,” said Executive Director of the Eastern Montana Brownfields Coalition, Tori Matejovsky. “The awarded supplemental funds will be utilized to follow through with the cleanup of sites previously assessed with Eastern Montana Brownfields Coalition Assessment grants and will provide additional resources for our many small communities to increase their tax base, remove blight from long-ignored areas and create the possibility for new employment opportunities.”
The Montana DEQ Brownfields Program works collaboratively with internal and external stakeholders to address hazardous substance and petroleum sites across Montana that can be reused or redeveloped once cleanup is complete. More information on the DEQ Brownfields Program can be found at: deq.mt.gov/cleanupandrec/Programs/brownfields