We want to be proactive in identifying these areas in our city. This money will allow us to poke around and identify any areas of concern. —Nicholas Rupp, spokesman with Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City
SALT LAKE CITY — Nearly $1.6 million in grants is funneling into Utah to help a trio of entities assess potential environmental problems or start cleanup of known sites already compromised by contaminants.
Utah's share of the 2012 Brownfields money is part of more than $69 million in funding announced Thursday by the Environmental Protection Agency in a program aimed at revitalizing communities impacted by blight and potential environmental hazards.
Recipients are scheduled to detail the significance of the EPA money in an event scheduled for next Thursday.
Salt Lake City through its redevelopment agency will receive $301,865 to assess possible environmental contamination along the North Temple corridor, and Utah State University gets $200,000 for asbestos removal for a collection of buildings on the former Intermountain Indian School site in Brigham City.
Another $1 million is being directed to the Wasatch Front Brownfields Coalition, which includes Salt Lake County, the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City and the city of Ogden in Weber County.
In that instance, the money is being deposited into a revolving loan/grant fund that is designed to be self-sustaining to target eight priority sites covering 294 acres that include Salt Lake City's former fleet yard and the Swift Building in Ogden.
Emily Farmer, redevelopment manager for Salt Lake County, said the coalition was formed after both Ogden and the county submitted unsuccessful applications to the EPA Brownfields program for a million-dollar loan fund in 2010.
"The idea was to pool our resources and become more competitive in the application process," Farmer said.
The sites that made it on the list for cleanup were prioritized based on having immediate needs, their potential for redevelopment as well as their proximity to transit and potential health hazards.
In the project application, for example, remediation of Salt Lake City's former fleet yard is described as a crucial first step for redevelopment that could help foster the advent of a modern streetcar line connecting the city's transit hub to the 900 South light rail station.
Rehabilitation of Ogden's properties such as the old stockyards north of 24th Street and the Swift Building will not only inject new life into the west-side area of that city, but help protect a pair of rivers.
"The Ogden and Weber rivers flow through this cluster of Brownfields sites and the waterways are bounded not by parks and green space, but rather junk yards, industrial shops and blighted neighborhoods," the coalition's application reads.
Farmer said both Ogden and Salt Lake County have been past recipients of grant moneys that helped assess what contaminants need to be addressed at various sites, and the revolving loan fund is the next step in the process to get remediation under way.
Salt Lake's North Temple corridor project, in contrast, is in the preliminary stage of assessing what could potentially exist in that area, said Nicholas Rupp, spokesman with Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City.
"We want to be proactive in identifying these areas in our city," he said. "This money will allow us to poke around and identify any areas of concern."
In Brigham City, USU will use its Brownfields grant to pay for asbestos removal at seven World War II-era buildings still standing. First used to house convalescing Army troops as the Bushnell Hospital until 1947, the barracks-style buildings went on to serve as living quarters for students at the Intermountain Indian School for 34 years. After closing in 1984, the buildings stood vacant.
"They have become really derelict,' said Thomas Lee, dean of USU's Brigham City campus. "All have been vandalized, are in bad condition and can't be reused."
USU bought 40 acres of the former Intermountain Indian School property in December 2010 and most of the 18 buildings on the campus have been torn down. Asbestos removal has been completed on some structures and demolition completed, but seven buildings remain, Lee said.
The university's Brigham City campus now occupies space with an applied technology center at an old shopping center down the road, but Lee said the goal is to establish a new campus at the site. He said one of the original buildings will be rehabilitated to serve as a museum detailing the history of the hospital and the Indian school.