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EPA cleanup grant to revitalize Jamestown's Elysian Park (Colo.)

Release Date: 04/07/2008
Contact Information: Dan Heffernan, 303-312-7074

Contaminated soils to be replaced by renovated music pavilion, playground

(Denver, Colo. -- April 7, 2008) The Town of Jamestown (Colo.) will receive a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to remove lead and other heavy metals from the City's Elysian Park, located on Main Street. The Elysian Park site includes approximately five acres adjacent to James Creek, a tributary of Lefthand Creek, the primary source of drinking water for about 20,000 residents in areas northeast of Boulder. Cleanup of the site will reduce risks to human health and the environment, including the potential contamination of James Creek. Following cleanup, the Town of Jamestown plans to improve recreational and entertainment facilities in the park, including a playground and a pavilion for musical events.

"This project is a clear opportunity for the Town of Jamestown to improve an important community asset while eliminating any environmental or human health concerns" said EPA brownfields coordinator Dan Heffernan. "The metals contamination present in Elysian Park will no longer limit its use for recreation, picnics, music and all of the things a community park should be."

Located about 12 miles northwest of the City of Boulder, Jamestown (pop. 283) is a small, residential community settled in the 1870s as a mining camp. Gold, silver, and fluorspar were mined from the area, with most mines and mills abandoned after the 1960s. EPA has conducted investigations and cleanup activities at several sites in the former mining district. A 2002 EPA investigation at Elysian Park revealed high lead concentrations in some surface soil samples. Recent community interest in improving park facilities has led to a renewed interest in cleaning up contaminated soils.

The $200,000 EPA brownfields cleanup grant will be supplemented by funding from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Town of Jamestown. While detailed plans for Elysian Park are still to be determined, the expected remediation plan will involve capping of the site with layers of fill material and top soil that will support native grasses. The result will eliminate any human health risk associated with exposure to contaminated surface soils as well as any potential for these contaminated soils to degrade water quality in James Creek. Plans for follow-up monitoring include sampling of soils at the park site and the waters adjacent to, upstream and downstream of the site.

EPA’s Brownfields Program empowers states, communities, and other stakeholders to work together to prevent, assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse brownfields. A brownfield site is real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. On January 11, 2002, President George W. Bush signed into law the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act. Under this law, EPA provides financial assistance to eligible applicants through four competitive grant programs: assessment grants, revolving loan fund grants, cleanup grants, and job training grants. Additionally, funding support is provided to state and tribal response programs through a separate mechanism.

Communities in 43 states will share more than $74 million in brownfields grants to help revitalize former industrial and commercial sites, turning them from problem properties to productive community use. The grants, awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, also go to two tribes and two U.S. Territories.

“By revitalizing and restoring neighborhoods nationwide, EPA’s Brownfields Program is proving that being a little green is doing a lot of good,” said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. “These grants will help convert even more environmental eyesores back into sources of community pride.”

Brownfields are sites where expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. In January 2002, President Bush signed the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act, which authorizes up to $250 million in funds annually for brownfields grants. The 2002 law expanded the definition of what’s considered a brownfields, so communities may now focus on mine-scarred lands or sites contaminated by petroleum or the manufacture and distribution of illegal drugs.

In all, 209 applicants were selected to receive 314 assessment, revolving loan fund, and cleanup grants:

  • 194 assessment grants totaling $38.7 million to be used to conduct site assessment and planning for eventual cleanup at one or more brownfields sites or as part of a community-wide effort.
  • 108 cleanup grants totaling $19.6 million to provide funding for grant recipients to carry out cleanup activities at brownfields sites they own.
  • 12 revolving loan fund grants totaling $15.7 million to provide funding for communities to capitalize a revolving loan fund and to provide subgrants to carry out cleanup activities at brownfields sites.
  • Revolving loan funds are generally used to provide low interest loans for brownfields cleanups.

The brownfields program encourages redevelopment of America's estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites. Since the beginning of the program, EPA has awarded 1,255 assessment grants totaling more than $298 million, 230 revolving loan fund grants totaling about $217 million, and 426 cleanup grants totaling $78.7 million.

In addition to industrial and commercial redevelopment, brownfields approaches have included the conversion of industrial waterfronts to river-front parks, landfills to golf courses, rail corridors to recreational trails, and gas stations to housing. As of January 31, 2008, EPA's brownfields assistance has leveraged more than $10.4 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funding and 47,201 jobs in cleanup, construction, and redevelopment. Assessments have been performed on 11,738 properties and 256 properties have been cleaned up.

More information on the grant recipients: