A plan at least two years in the making reached a big milestone this morning, Thursday, when the Port of Sunnyside was announced the recipient of a $300,000 grant to clean up Sunnyside's historic Carnation plant property at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and South First Street.
That's according to information released this morning by the Washington Department of Ecology.
The state agency is giving the port $300,000 to finish cleaning up solvent and metal contamination at the old Carnation industrial milk processing plant.
The $300,000 in funding for the project comes from the state's voter-approved tax on hazardous substances.
Today's grant announcement marks the latest progress in a development that started in 2011 when port officials agreed to take the lead role in re-developing the Carnation property, which features a landmark Carnation water tower.
The Port of Sunnyside will start clean-up work this spring to ready the property for brownfield redevelopment to bring new business and family wage jobs to the community. The clean-up is anticipated to be completed by 2015.
Brownfield sites are abandoned or underused properties where there may be environmental contamination. Redevelopment efforts are often hindered by the liability for the clean-up or the uncertainty of its costs. Brownfield sites that aren't cleaned up represent lost opportunities for economic development and for other community improvements.
The Carnation plant, for example, was previously the site of two wineries before fiscal and contamination issues hindered development.
The port had used a previous $200,000 Department of Ecology grant to complete a detailed evaluation of the property, including studying the building integrity of the old plant. The examination also looked at details regarding the extent and type of environmental contamination and potential uses for the property.
Based on the evaluation, the Port officially purchased the property in December 2012.
"The Port appreciates the assistance of the Department of Ecology in funding the study and the remediation performed by Maul, Foster & Alongi as well as U.S. Bank in obtaining the property; a positive, collaborative project," says Jed Crowther, the port's property development and project manager.
A legal agreement between the Department of Ecology and the port outlines the details for the clean-up. The Port of Sunnyside will excavate soil at the site to clean up metals. It also will use aggressive groundwater treatment methods to substantially reduce solvents that contaminate the property.
"We're so excited about this project moving forward. I applaud the port for its leadership and creative thinking," says Valerie Bound, the state agency's toxics clean-up manager. "This project was their idea, and Ecology is happy to provide technical assistance and funding."
Executive Port Director Jay Hester will officially sign the grant agreement on behalf of the port during the Port of Sunnyside commissioners meeting next Monday, April 15.
"Our goal is to prepare the site for positive redevelopment, paving the way for new business and jobs for our community," says Hester.
Clean-up and redevelopment of brownfields can turn a perceived problem into a community asset, note Department of Ecology officials. A restored brownfield like the Carnation plant's can stimulate a community's economy.
"The Carnation site is a classic example of effective brownfield revitalization," says Crowther. "By collaboration and teamwork, the Port of Sunnyside has turned challenge into opportunity."