Douglas Accepts Initial $100,000 State Funding To Start Haworth Building Remediation Efforts
The recent unexpected discovery of PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) contamination found at the former Haworth manufacturing site on Blue Star Highway in Douglas has prompted the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to provide the city an advance funding —$100,0000—of its grant/loan request total of $1.25 million.
The Douglas City Council accepted the money via a resolution at Monday’s meeting.
“If you don’t know the extent of the PCBs, you don’t know the cost to clean it up,” Engineer Tom O’Connell told the council, referring to what the $100,000 funding will be used for: to investigate the level of PCB contamination at the site and create a plan to deal with the necessary remediation.
O’Connell is with ERM, the environmental consulting firm for Geerlings Development Company, the developer interested in putting the Haworth site back into productive use.
O’Connell had earlier asked the city for its cooperation in applying for remediation funding as it can only be awarded to the local unit of government, not a private entity.
Per DEQ guidelines, the grant/loan total cannot be released until the full extent of PCB contamination has been identified and has an approved remediation plan and cost.
The PCB contamination was discovered in December and it is different and in addition to the plume of chlorinated solvents and metals environmental experts had already known about that is emanating from underneath the former Haworth building.
The $100, 000 grant will also be used to create a remediation plan for the plume.
The original request Douglas submitted to the State of Michigan to support the redevelopment and environmental response action was $850,000.
But once the PCB was found, the city modified its DEQ Brownfield Redevelopment Grant and Loan Application, requesting an additional $400,000 to address the newly discovered PCBs.
Developer Scott Geerlings says his purchase of the Haworth site hinges on the grant/loan being awarded to the city.
The grant/loan itself comes with conditions that Geerlings create jobs and use the funds to conduct investigations and necessary actions to fulfill “environmental due care” and “baseline environmental assessment (BEA) response activities.”
Geerlings says he expects to have three to four tenants housing warehouses and light industrial manufacturing that will create 75 to 100 jobs in the first two years following a $5 million to $10 million investment.
The breakdown of what part of the $1.25 million will be grant and what part will be loan is still unknown, say city officials.
The loan portion is expected to be paid by the city with the future tax dollars (e.g. tax increment financing, property tax revenue from increases in assessed values).