rss icon

Sunday, 25 May 2014 22:00

Federal grants for environmental site assessments up for grabs in Ottawa County

Written by 
Rate this item
(1 Vote)
Officials in Holland city government say an environmental site assessment grant from the Ottawa County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority provided a key piece of funding that could help the city to expand its pedestrian promenade that’s expected to act as a catalyst for a planned mixed-use development at Crescent Shores Marina. Officials in Holland city government say an environmental site assessment grant from the Ottawa County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority provided a key piece of funding that could help the city to expand its pedestrian promenade that’s expected to act as a catalyst for a planned mixed-use development at Crescent Shores Marina. COURTESY IMAGE

The Ottawa County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (OCBRA) approved its first assessment project that was made possible by a $400,000 federal grant.

While applications for the grant funding have been few, Ottawa County officials hope to push more money out the door soon to help get local redevelopment projects off the ground.

“The funding is first-come, first-served,” said Kelly Getman-Dissette, economic development coordinator for Ottawa County.

The funds, which became available on March 31 and originated from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Program, are available for initial environmental site assessments of known or suspected contaminated properties. Gas stations, dry cleaners and metal plating facilities are just few examples of properties covered, she said.

“It’s a new program for us and there may have been some initial confusion about what the funding covers and what it can be use for,” Dissette said.

Given the funding’s three-year timeline, Dissette said she isn’t worried about getting money out the door right away, although the organization is encouraging interested parties to apply for grants before they close on a property transaction.

“Assessments are time-consuming and costly to a redevelopment project,” Dissette said. “The grant money we have now can make it easier to kick off that redevelopment and can be helpful to a developer who is unsure about taking on a (contaminated) property.”

One stipulation of the grant funding is that $200,000 must be used for petroleum-based contamination assessments in the county, while the other $200,000 can go toward assessments of other hazardous materials.

The petroleum designated funds could take slightly longer to distribute as more projects typically fall under the category of other hazard materials, Dissette said.

Activities covered in phase one of an environmental site assessment include the development of a report that identifies past uses of a site and the surrounding area to determine any potential sources of contamination. Phase one assessments involve reviewing records, making site visits and conducting interviews with property owners, neighbors, local government officials and others. After a phase one assessment is complete and potential sources of contamination are found, a project can move to a phase two assessment, which includes sampling water, soil, building tanks and drums.

Phase two assessments can also be covered by additional grant funding from the OCBRA.

The first project taking advantage of the EPA funding is the City of Holland’s expansion of its pedestrian promenade. The city secured $4,000 for a phase one assessment report, the results of which are expected by June 1.

The city plans to install a pedestrian promenade in the 500 block of West 17th Street to connect to the Heinz Boardwalk, as well as add streetscaping and a parking lot to service nearby retail and business establishments in the South Shore Village area. The total estimated cost of the project is $430,000.

The project is expected to increase the local tax base, eliminate blight, create recreational space and serve as a catalyst for additional redevelopment and neighborhood improvements, said Joel Dye, the city’s community development coordinator.  

“What we’re looking to do is connect this district to the waterfront and make it more pedestrian friendly,” Dye said. “In the big picture, this area was originally developed through the 50s and now it’s starting to show some wear and tear. This funding is going to help us achieve the vision for improvement to this business district.”

The city of Holland currently owns one of the parcels in the project area and is working with a private owner to purchase the remaining property needed to complete the project. The city currently has an agreement with area business owner Bob Byers to purchase the remaining parcel for $53,500, Dye said. The deal is expected to close in August.

Thanks to EPA funds from the OCBRA, the city can move forward with the purchase, pending a positive assessment, Dye said.

“If this grant wasn’t available, times are tight for local governments all around and that extra legal work with environmental studies isn’t in the budget,” Dye said. “The ability of Ottawa County being able to step up is making our end of acquiring the land a lot less painful.”

At the same time, Dye and other city officials are also hopeful that the extension of the promenade and other site improvements will help push the redevelopment of the nearby marina.

Proposed redevelopment plans for Crescent Shores Marina on Lake Macatawa were unanimously approved by the Holland Planning Commission earlier this year after being placed on hold for nearly six years because of the economic downturn and other hurdles. In addition to renovating, demolishing and adding new piers for a marina, the redevelopment project also includes a housing component. The 27-unit complex is being developed by Rob McBrien under the name Crescent Shores LCC and includes single-family homes and loft-style condominiums.

With the completion of the Minit-Mart redevelopment in Holland’s Washington Square neighborhood, Dye said he expects to see more revitalization plans on the horizon very soon.

As for the OCBRA, Dissette said the county hopes it can accomplish more than just providing funds for assessments.

“If we get to the end of the fund and all we’ve done is assessments, I don’t think we’ll feel like we accomplished what we wanted to do,” she said. “We want to see these sites redeveloped, increasing the tax base and creating jobs.” 

Read 6322 times Last modified on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 08:08

Breaking News

September 2017
S M T W T F S
27 28 29 30 31 1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Follow MiBiz