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TCD gives progress report on Brownfield grant
June 12, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

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During Monday night’s Gering city council meeting, Mike Sarchet with Twin Cities Development provided a progress report on the Brownfield Grant program. Gering has applied for the Environmental Protection Agency funding to help identify and eliminate hazardous structures in the area. Two buildings on the list, the McKinley School building and the former Packerland plant, are either in the process or have been demolished. However, those were both demolished without Brownfield funding.

“We got a letter from the EPA thanking us for an excellent proposal,” Gering Mayor Ed Mayo told the council. “They appreciated the time and effort that went into its preparation and it appears we’re going to get the grant.”

Sarchet said the process of securing Brownfield funding to do community cleanup started five years ago. Interested local people and EPA representatives toured area buildings to identify areas of increased liability. Then where necessary, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality conducted testing for asbestos, contaminated soil and other hazards.

“Out goal is to find ways we can improve the appearance and the usefulness of the properties,” Sarchet said. “This is probably the best infrastructure region we have as far as developing new industry.”

He added there are businesses interested in building in the area, but require “clean dirt” sites on which to build. Cleanup funds are difficult to secure unless a community goes through a rigorous EPA assessment. The EPA wants the community to know exactly what the problems are, what the potential is and has a vision for redevelopment and what’s best for the community.
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