EPA awards $1 million to clean up and revitalize Keating School property in Pueblo, Colorado’s Bessemer neighborhood
Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding will address contamination and redevelop historic building as a theater and community space
Keating School Cleanup Project: llan Salzberg, 720-935-9500, email@example.com
Pueblo, Colo. (May 25, 2023) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced the Keating School in Pueblo, Colorado, will receive a $1 million Brownfields Cleanup Grant funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
The EPA funds will be used to clean up the former Keating Junior High School at 215 Orman Avenue, which operated as a public school and education center from the late 1920s to 2009 and is contaminated with asbestos, mercury and other hazardous materials. EPA’s award to the Keating School is among six Brownfields grants totaling nearly $4.78 million announced today for cleanup and revitalization projects in communities across Colorado.
“The Keating School has put together an inspiring vision for cleaning up and reviving a vacant historic building in the heart of the Bessemer neighborhood,” said EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker. “EPA is proud to support the property’s redevelopment as a theatre and new housing to complement growing investments in the community.”
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is helping clean up and revitalize communities across Colorado,” said U.S. Senator Michael Bennet. “With this funding, Buena Vista, Pueblo, Telluride, Silverton, San Luis and Trinidad can make sure these sites are safe for the families living near them and restore them in ways that meet the communities’ needs.”
The EPA Brownfields funds are part of President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda to expedite the assessment and cleanup of brownfield sites while advancing environmental justice through the Multipurpose, Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup (MARC) Grant programs. Thanks to the historic boost from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this funding is the largest ever awarded in the history of the EPA’s Brownfields MARC Grant programs.
“Receiving this million-dollar grant from the EPA is a major step in the reuse of the beautiful and historic Keating School that has been sitting empty for over a decade,” said Corinne Koehler. “The school was built in 1927 and it still has of the original features that will be saved and restored in the renovation. This building holds many wonderful memories for the thousands of Puebloans who attended school there over the many decades. Thank you to the EPA for seeing the need to save this historic building in the heart of Pueblo.”
The Keating School will use the EPA funds to complete a full cleanup of the building and prepare it for safe reuse. A recent environmental assessment of the property identified significant volumes of asbestos-containing material, much in poor condition, various building materials in need of disposal and polyurethane flooring containing hazardous levels of mercury.
The heart of the school building features a well-preserved, vaulted theater space that once seated hundreds from the local community. The restoration of this space will enable its reuse as a theater with additional space offering an opportunity for new and much-needed apartments and townhomes.
Other Brownfields grants in Colorado include:
Watershed NP, Inc.: Buena Vista, $979,222
The Town of San Luis: $500,000
The Town of Silverton: $800,000
Mt. Carmel Wellness and Community Center, Trinidad: $998,700
San Miguel County: $500,000
Thanks to the historic $1.5 billion boost from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, EPA’s Brownfields Program is helping more communities than ever begin to address the economic, social and environmental challenges caused by brownfields and stimulate economic opportunity and environmental revitalization in historically overburdened communities.
EPA’s Brownfields Program also advances President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative to direct 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities. Approximately 84% of the MARC program applications selected to receive funding proposed to work in areas that include historically underserved communities.
EPA’s Brownfields Program began in 1995 and has provided nearly $2.37 billion in Brownfield Grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return blighted properties to productive reuse. EPA’s investments in addressing brownfield sites have leveraged more than $36 billion in cleanup and redevelopment. Communities that previously received Brownfields Grants used these resources to fund assessments and cleanups of brownfields, and successfully leverage an average of 10.6 jobs per $100,000 of grant funds spent and $19.78 for every dollar.