In Fiscal Year 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granted Grand Traverse County's Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (GTCBRA) $200,000 through the Petroleum Site Assessment Grant Program. Of the estimated 450,000 Brownfield sites in the U.S., approximately 1/2 are thought to be impacted by petroleum, much of it from leaking underground storage tanks at old gas stations. These sites blight the surrounding neighborhoods and threaten human health and the environment. Petroleum can contaminate ground water, which is the source of drinking water for many households. Migration of plumes of contaminated groundwater can also threaten Grand Traverse Bay and other critical water resources. The grant provided funding to GTCBRA to inventory, characterize, assess, and conduct planning and community involvement related to petroleum Brownfield sites.
101 North Park Street
The U.S. EPA Site Assessment Program was used to help jump-start this long-term idle project at one of the most prominent locations in downtown Traverse City at Front and Park. The program funded Phase One, Phase Two, and Baseline Environmental Assessments that helped reduce uncertainty in redeveloping the site. The site is now home to a multi-million dollar 5-story mixed-use development.
Great Lakes Potato Chips
The U.S. EPA Site Assessment Program was used to help facilitate the acquisition of Great Lakes Potato Chips headquarter and manufacturing facility at 6806 East Traverse Highway in Long Lake Township by funding Phase 1 and Phase 2 Environmental Assessments. The Phase 2 Assessment was utilized to create a Baseline Environmental Assessment and Due Care Plan that enabled the company to purchase the former Progressive Machine site to expand their business. Production of the chips helps support local vendors as the owners "try to do everything as local as possible. Potatoes from Michigan growers; boxes from Traverse City, spices from Suttons Bay, packaging from Chicago." See the Great Lake Potato Chips website for more information.
East Bay Plaza
The U.S. EPA Site Assessment Program was used to conduct a Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessment, a Geophysical Survey, and a Brownfield Plan for an automobile-oriented commercial node on the east side of the City of Traverse City. Only $8,000 of the programs funds were used for this work, which leveraged $92,000 from other sources. The Brownfield plan calls for the Plaza to be redeveloped into a more pedestrian friendly development, and include a greater variety of uses including residential components. Financial mechanisms to carry out the development are being sought by the developer, which intends to seek the assistance of the recently awarded GTBRA U.S. EPA Revolving Loan Fund Program. Total project cost of addressing the environmental contamination at the site is estimated to exceed $2,400,000.
Outcome of the Grant
The result of the GTCBRA use of the Brownfield assessment program protected human health and the environment, leveraged $784,650 of private resources for cleanup activities, leveraged over $20,000,000 of redevelopment and construction activities, created economic and job opportunities, and increased the tax base. In all, 13 sites were assessed throughout the County: 7 in the City of Traverse City 3 three in Garfield Township, and 1 each in East Bay, Long Lake, and Blair Township. At 5 of the sites it was determined that no cleanup was needed. This is important to note, as the perception of environmental contamination can hinder the redevelopment and economic development of a site greatly. The assessments confirmed contamination at 6 sites, at which 4 have been cleaned up to date. Over 400 temporary jobs were created in carrying out cleanup activities, and over 275 permanent jobs have been created to date through the redevelopment of sites with more expected to come.
The GTCBRA thanks the EPA for the opportunity to utilize this resource, and hopes to partner with the EPA in the future to address over 350 remaining known petroleum sites throughout the County.