Residents, businesses concerned as Bozeman considers investment around former Superfund site | News


The specter of contaminated soil is muddying a metropolis effort to extend public funding in an space of northeast Bozeman that features a former Superfund website.

A mile from downtown Bozeman, sandwiched between the railroad and I-90, the previous Idaho Pole yards sit vacant. The property is the main focus of a metropolis effort to type an city renewal district within the space, which might open the door to public funding and doable personal redevelopment.

With land in Bozeman growing in worth, the placement and measurement of the property is any developers dream. However, the Idaho Pole Yards is just not a typical chunk of land.

Beginning within the 1940s, the Idaho Pole Co. handled wooden at that location. A long time later, it was found that chemical substances had contaminated the soil and groundwater across the website. The Environmental Safety Company acquired concerned, including the property to the Superfund record in 1986 and ultimately main a clean-up effort that noticed 19,000 cubic yards of soil handled, returned to the bottom and coated with clear soil.

Since Idaho Pole stopped operations in 1997, the property has sat largely vacant, save for a couple of outdated buildings, the occasional trespasser and dozens of wells sticking up from the bottom which can be used for sampling.

The EPA eliminated a lot of the property from the Superfund record earlier this yr, however a couple of acres of handled soil stay.

Although there is no such thing as a proposal for the property but, a gaggle of potential patrons is to start with phases of formulating a plan for improvement.

The efforts to type an city renewal district are separate from any potential improvement plans, however the city renewal plan partially focuses on redevelopment within the space to retain present and appeal to new financial improvement.

With the dearth of utilities to the property limiting alternatives, Nolan Campbell, a Bozeman actual property dealer representing Idaho Pole Co., stated an city renewal district with tax increment financing is a viable path to having the ability to develop the property.

Its outright been uncared for for thus lengthy, Campbell stated. We are able to simply proceed to neglect these infrastructure points or we will tackle them.

Establishing tax increment financing for the world would direct a portion of property taxes from their regular locations for use for funding in public infrastructure.

The aim of those (city renewal districts) is to incentivize personal funding by making sure public investments concurrent or simultaneous with these initiatives, stated Bozeman director of financial improvement Brit Fontenot.

The Bozeman Metropolis Fee will take a primary vote on the Pole Yard City Renewal District plan on Tuesday. And although the plan isnt about simply the Idaho Pole property it extends to greater than 270 acres the pole yards, and the rumblings of a improvement there, are the reason for concern for close by neighbors.

Northeast Bozeman residents arent strangers to controversial or complex development ideas. However, neighborhood affiliation president Reno Walsh stated their issues arent solely as a result of they oppose improvement basically.

Its simple to imagine that everyone within the northeast neighborhood is against improvement (however) weve all accepted the truth that it will occur. However when it does occur it has to make sense for the well being and security of people, Walsh stated.

Within the case of the pole yards, Walsh stated he isnt assured within the security of potential improvement there.

I really feel like theres an excessive amount of confusion, I dont really feel like theres sufficient transparency and I really feel like theres an excessive amount of threat concerned for it to be this complicated and non-transparent, Walsh stated.

Its not simply residents. Close by companies are involved that any improvement within the space resulting in extra visitors wouldn’t simply have an effect on their operations, however enhance security dangers close to the railroad.

Native well being officers are involved, too. The Gallatin Metropolis-County Board of Well being Environmental Well being Subcommittee submitted public remark in regards to the proposal stating issues over the protection of the pole yards. Even the planning board, when voting to affirm that the city renewal plan matched with the towns development coverage, cautioned the town fee to contemplate whether or not the plan was being pushed ahead too rapidly, and the way it might affect close by companies.

A number of the concern facilities on the potential that housing may very well be constructed on the property. Although many of the website is not on the Superfund record, it nonetheless is topic to institutional controls from the EPA, that are written into the deed and limit or stop completely different makes use of on the property.

In 2017, the institutional controls have been modified to permit for residential use on a portion of the location, which Campbell stated solely utilized to the property Idaho Pole Co. owns north of I-90. Whereas institutional controls nonetheless limit use on the location, a current five-year report from the EPA indicated mixed-use, with business on the bottom flooring and residential on higher flooring, would restrict direct soil publicity to little or none.

Roger Hoogerheide, the EPAs remedial mission supervisor for Idaho Pole, stated direct contact with soil is the first publicity pathway.

Residential zoning that might permit for houses with yards, Hoogerheide stated, is related to way more soil publicity through ingestion, pores and skin contact and inhalation, Hoogerheide stated.

In a mixed-use residential situation, the dearth of a yard would stop householders coming into extra contact with the soil, Hoogerheide stated.

Although an idea plan submitted to the town earlier this yr laid out free plans for a mixed-use improvement with residential on higher flooring, Justin Alexander, a principal architect engaged on the mission, stated the potential patrons have scrapped these plans and wish to head in a extra industrial course.

The primary a part of the property between the railroad and I-90 is at the moment zoned for manufacturing and industrial makes use of.

I feel the builders, they really feel that it might be finest to do one thing that extra aligns with the (zoning), extra aligns with actually the environmental points of the location, Alexander stated. Theyre actually seeking to do one thing that actually helps out the town of Bozeman. I do imagine that.

However, with the dearth of metropolis utilities like water and sewer strains, any improvement there faces an uphill battle. There are visitors issues, too. The property is already pretty lower off from the remainder of the town, and the street-level railroad crossing solely complicates issues. Among the many many potential makes use of of the tax increment funds included within the city renewal plan is a suggestion to create an overpass over the railroad from East Oak and Birch streets, and to advertise funding within the rail spur and different associated amenities.

Although metropolis officers have stated the city renewal efforts may enhance transportation points within the space, close by companies are involved what affect elevated visitors related to improvement on the pole yard may have on their operations.

Anthony Tangaro, the final supervisor of Empire Constructing Supplies in Bozeman, stated he disagrees that improvement there may essentially enhance the rail spur.

What I do know in regards to the rail spur, (is) any enhance within the variety of human beings close to the railroad dock and tracks is only a security difficulty, Tangaro stated.

Within the few years Campbell has been representing Idaho Pole, he stated a handful of teams have expressed curiosity. The dearth of utilities has all the time been the deal breaker.

The environmental (side) is just not the issue; its the infrastructure, Campbell stated.

Nonetheless, many are involved about what precisely continues to be in that soil.

In written public remark to the town fee, the Gallatin Metropolis-County Board of Well being Environmental Well being Subcommittee stated whereas they don’t seem to be wholly against improvement there, quite a few questions stay in regards to the standing of contaminants on the location.

The subcommittee wrote they’re involved with groundwater contamination and the way digging deep within the floor to place in sewer and water strains would affect the unfold of contaminants.

Hoogerheide stated if improvement would contain deeper disturbance of sub floor soils, than what has been lately examined, the EPA would require extra sampling.

The current five-year evaluate launched by the EPA said that whereas the soil clean-up goes to plan, the groundwater treatment is just not functioning as supposed. In keeping with the report, residual soil and groundwater contamination proceed to affect groundwater in some areas. Three wells have proven elevated concentrations of pentachlorophenol since 2017, although the report states PCP concentrations are declining basically.

Hoogerheide stated residual contamination refers to chemical compounds in soil and groundwater that remediation efforts can not tackle.

Residual contaminants may be discovered at websites with underground soil and groundwater issues such because the Idaho Pole Firm website, Hoogerheide stated. Whereas remediation can not take away all residual compounds, we depend on monitoring to make sure contaminants are being diminished and dangers are adequately characterised and managed in response to website cleanup objectives.

Hoogerheide stated extra wells have been put in in October.

Although the soil remediation is taken into account to be properly functioning, a couple of acres of handled soil in an space of the property near L Avenue nonetheless stay on the Superfund record.

Lisa DeWitt, who labored on the Idaho Pole website in a task on the Montana Division of Environmental High quality till lately and now’s consulting within the improvement course of on the environmental points on the website for Weston Options, stated the dioxins within the handled soils space isnt as a lot of a priority because the contamination on the Bozeman Solvent site.

So long as no one digs into it and its capped, (these) dioxins, they actually maintain tight to soil particles so even when water goes by, its not going to finish up within the groundwater, DeWitt stated. It might make a fantastic parking zone, as a result of that might make a fantastic cap.

DeWitt and others engaged on the location emphasised repeatedly they wouldnt construct something that might put folks in danger. Marty Matsen, director of group improvement, stated the towns engineering division would work intently with the EPA and different teams to ensure placing in water, sewer and different infrastructure is protected.

As a result of the world is already zoned for industrial use, Matsen stated an industrial mission would have a quicker monitor to approval than would a mission that might contain a zoning change, like a residential improvement. Matsen emphasised that any mission would undergo the same old approval course of, with loads of time for public enter.

There’s various work that also must be performed earlier than something is ready to get performed on that property, Matsen stated.

Northeast Bozeman residents are used to watching the towns plans for his or her neighborhood intently. Longtime North Wallace Avenue resident Jeanne Wesley-Wiese whose children used to play on the stacks of picket poles with out her understanding stated she isnt against improvement on the location.

What worries Wesley-Wiese is the method, and the way a lot say close by residents may have.

Im involved with the visitors, Im involved in regards to the affect on the neighborhood, Wesley-Wiese stated. This neighborhood has a historical past of all types of issues with the town and with builders, and you can write a ebook in all probability about it. In order that historical past has led the neighborhood to be cautious of it.

To see what else is going on in Gallatin County subscribe to the web paper.

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