Kalispell to Receive $400,000 for Environmental Site Assessments

City wins competitive Brownfields grant to help fuel economic redevelopment

By Dillon Tabish
A Mission Mountain freight train rolls through downtown Kalispell on June 10, 2015. Justin Franz | Flathead Beacon

Kalispell was successful in its bid for another competitive federal grant that will help fuel economic redevelopment throughout the city.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday it was awarding $400,000 in Brownfields grant funding to Kalispell. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes will also receive $200,000.

The grant funding will go toward environmental assessments at properties targeted for reuse and redevelopment.

“I’m thrilled. This is very exciting for the city,” Katharine Thompson, Kalispell’s community development manager, said.

Kalispell last received a Brownfields grant in 2009 and roughly 20 site assessments of varying size and scope were conducted as a result, Thompson said.

“This opens up a significant resource for private property owners in the city of Kalispell who have or think they have a property that may have some environmental issues,” Thompson said. “What we’re able to do with these grant funds is provide phase one or phase two environmental sites assessments to property owners so they may move forward with their property.”

Many of these sites are related to historic industrial uses in the area and also include former auto repair and paint shops, wrecking yards, dry cleaners and other facilities where solvents, petroleum and metals are potential contaminants, the EPA said.

In its application for the grant, Kalispell officials said these environmental site assessments would be critical to the redevelopment of sites along the railroad corridor that have been identified by the community as a priority.

The city used prior Brownfields funding to assess the former gravel pit that is now being redeveloped into an industrial rail yard off Whitefish Stage Road.

After using all of its previous grant funding, Kalispell applied twice more for a Brownfields grant but was unsuccessful until now.

On the Flathead Reservation, the funding will lead to assessments at properties containing damaged buildings and abandoned mills, dumps, and vehicle junkyards. These assessments will inform cleanup needs and advance tribal plans for the reuse and redevelopment of these properties, the EPA said.

“EPA Brownfields grants continue to help Montana communities transform blighted properties into assets,” said Shaun McGrath, the EPA regional administrator. “EPA is proud to be part of these projects that are addressing contamination and creating new amenities and business opportunities.”

The EPA awarded 218 new grant investments totaling $55.2 million to 131 communities across the U.S.

Since the inception of the EPA’s Brownfields Program in 1995, cumulative investments have leveraged more than $20 billion from a variety of public and private sources for cleanup and redevelopment activities, according to the agency. Studies have shown that residential property values near brownfields sites that are cleaned up increased between 5 and 15 percent.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.