Department of Ecology News Release - July 15, 2011

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Cleanup grants help turn blighted properties into attractive real estate

YAKIMA – Grants totaling $200,000 each from the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) will help the city of Ellensburg and Port of Sunnyside to investigate contaminated properties and make them suitable for redevelopment.

“These grants are designed to help communities plan for redevelopment opportunities. Cities can jump-start cleanup at sites that are a blight on the community and otherwise carry little value. It makes them more attractive for economic and other community benefits,” explained Valerie Bound, manager for Ecology’s Toxic Cleanup Program in Yakima.

The Legislature authorized Ecology to make the grants available to local governments across the state. Funding comes from the state’s Local Toxics Account and may be used for planning, sampling, assessment, and habitat restoration. Other Central Washington communities are encouraged to apply for grants. In Ellensburg, a proposal has been approved to plan the cleanup of a former diesel refueling station at 400 East Mountain View Ave. The 5-acre site is contaminated by petroleum from underground storage tanks that leaked into surrounding soil and groundwater. It could become the home for the local fire department and a new senior center.

After extensive station location studies on improving response times, Kittitas Valley Fire District II identified the former Mackner Scales site as ideal for a new station. The city of Ellensburg has plans to relocate its senior center to the site, and there is also the potential to restore habitat in the urban stream that borders the property.

The Port of Sunnyside will use its grant to entice other business entities like a winery to locate at the former Carnation industrial milk processing plant at 111 E. Lincoln Ave. The property is currently bank-owned and contaminated by petroleum and solvents.

“Redevelopment or resale of the property has been hampered by environmental concerns,” Bound noted. “In applying for the grant, the Port hopes to remedy those concerns and make the site more attractive to buyers and developers. That’s exactly the purpose of these grants.”

More information about the grants is available online. (http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/swfa/grants/rag.html)

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Media contact: Joye Redfield-Wilder, communications manager, (509) 575-2610; jred461@ecy.wa.gov