The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded four Montana projects nearly $10 million in Brownfields money. Silver Park in Missoula was completed using Brownfields funds. (Provided by the City of Missoula)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday that four Montana organizations will receive nearly $10 million in revolving loan funds to clean up brownfields, or sites where reuse is complicated by pollution.
“With this funding, four impactful organizations will advance the progress they’ve already made cleaning up and redeveloping polluted sites across the State of Montana,” said EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker in a statement from the EPA.
The EPA Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund Coalition grant program funds will be awarded to the following:
- Snowy Mountain Development Corporation (SMDC) in Lewistown will receive $3.9 million,
- Great Falls Development Authority (GFDA) in Great Falls will receive $2.65 million,
- Bear Paw Development Corporation of Northern Montana (Bear Paw Development) in Havre will receive $2.15 million, and
- Headwaters Resource Conservation & Development Council (HRCD) in Butte will receive $1 million.
Snowy Mountain Development Corporation
The EPA said it has provided some $3.8 million over the last decade to the Snowy Mountain group for 23 projects. The group works in a six-county area in central Montana and has current projects planned in Hilger, Winnett, Roundup and Lewistown.
“A priority site will be the Crowley Block in Lewistown, which when completed will provide 14 affordable housing units,” the EPA said in the news release. “SMDC has already leveraged revolving loan funds to clean up asbestos at the Crowley Block with $4.5 million in state, local, and federal resources to bring the One Health Community Health Center into the formerly vacant building.”
In a statement, Cathy Barta, redevelopment director of the Snowy Mountain Development Corporation, said counties in the area show evidence of the industrial revolution in Montana.
“Vacant and abandoned railyards, gas stations, and former commercial properties add a blighted look to our otherwise beautiful historic downtowns and communities,” Barta said. “We are extremely grateful and appreciative of the EPA funds we have received over the last 10 years that have helped our communities begin to address these challenges.”
Great Falls Development Authority
The Great Falls Development Authority will provide cleanup loans and grants at multiple properties throughout the City of Great Falls and Cascade County, the EPA said. A priority site is the Baatz Building, a historic vacant downtown building planned for a multiuse development with permanent, affordable housing.
Brett Doney, CEO and president of GFDA, said the funds will ensure important redevelopment happens that otherwise would not, especially in downtown, riverfront and rural target areas.
“We will put these funds to work to help create much needed housing, essential community services, and entrepreneurial businesses to speed our pandemic economic recovery,” Doney said in a statement.
The EPA said it has provided GFDA $2.9 million over 16 years for projects that include the West Bank Landing, True Brew Coffee Shop, Miracle Mile, Arvon Block and the Great Falls Community Food Bank.
Bear Paw Development Corporation
Bear Paw Development plans to use Brownfields money throughout the five counties in its Economic Development District, which represents a large rural area of northern Montana. Projects include cleanup so the Bullhook Community Health Center in Havre can expand, addressing petroleum contamination in Chinook for a new restaurant and coffee shop, and assisting a former car dealership and fueling station in Chester to clean petroleum pollution so the site can be used by an agricultural grain merchandiser.
“These funds will be used throughout our five-county Economic Development District to clean up contaminated properties and put them back into productive use,” said Bear Paw Development Corporation Executive Director Paul Tuss in a statement. “This investment will revitalize neighborhoods and communities that otherwise would continue to be impacted by the negative effects of environmental contamination.”
Over the past 11 years, the EPA has provided Bear Paw Development $1.5 million for projects including the Boys and Girls Club of the Hi-Line in Havre, Malta Opportunities, Kaste’s Building in Big Sandy, and the Chester Vets Club.
Headwaters Resource Conservation & Development Council
As a new recipient of a Brownfields RLF Coalition grant, HRCD will use funds to for site cleanups, redevelopment, and community activities in a seven-county region in southwest Montana, the EPA said. Priority sites are located in old, blighted commercial corridors and include former gas stations, auto repair shops, a former hotel building, and a former junkyard in a floodplain.
HRCD Executive Director Joe Willauer said he’s thankful for support from the EPA.
“The Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund for southwestern Montana is going to provide critical funding for properties that are underutilized and help spur development and investment that will lead to new businesses, new jobs and vibrant economies,” Willauer said in a statement.
The EPA said the Brownfields Program advances President Joe Biden’s Justive40 Initiative, which aims to deliver at least 40 percent of the benefits of certain government programs to disadvantaged communities. Since its inception in 1995, EPA’s investments in brownfield sites have leveraged more than $35 billion in cleanup and redevelopment, according to the agency.
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