County eyes grant money

Flush with the $1.4 million it gathered together to help fund a face-lift for Gorst, Kitsap County is now in the process of going after another $800,000 to take the planned cleanup even further.

With the help of Parametrix consultants, the county is asking the Environmental Protection Agency for another $400,000 in Gorst cleanup money — essentially reapplying for sites that didn’t make the cut last cycle. It is also using the EPA’s new recognition of petroleum-contaminated sites to ask for another $400,000 slated for old gas stations and buried gas tanks all over the county.

“There are literally hundreds of these sites throughout Kitsap County,” said Eric Baker, who has taken the lead on the Gorst project. “We would like to offer a prescriptive way to redevelop those sites.”

The county believes it has a good chance of snagging the extra money. Much of the money it has already received for Gorst comes through the EPA’s brownfields program — a program that gives governments incentives for buying contaminated properties and rehabilitating them. The program has aspects in common with the better-known Superfund system, but Baker said it works much better for small areas that could potentially become sources of pride for the surrounding community.

“Superfund is a hammer — there’s almost no carrot aspect,” he said. “Brownfields is 75 percent carrot.”

The county’s plan is to use $200,000 of the requested funds to do a more in-depth scrub of the old Port Orchard Sand and Gravel site. Not only is the land topped with rusting machinery, said Parametrix’s Peter Battuello, but it also suffers from a lime leaching problem that has severely skewed the pH of the underlying water table.

As part of the land swap that will give the county ownership of the parcel in exchange for another parcel near an existing sand and gravel pit by Port Orchard Airport, the owner of the land has offered approximately $65,000 in clean-up labor. However, Baker said the county would prefer to reserve that offer for use on other sites should funding fall short anywhere.

Battuello said the county also hopes to establish a small pad-ready commercial site at the highway end of the property — the plan would net the county extra income from the sale of the property and still leave as much as possible available for habitat restoration.

“As we get closer to the highway, the costs get higher and higher for reclamation,” Battuello explained.

Another $200,000 would go towards digging extra junk out of the old Evergreen Auto Wrecking site.

The Port of Bremerton, who owned the property until recently, managed to net a Salmon Recovery Funding Board grant for the land before deeding it to the county for continued restoration. Baker said the money will certainly make a big dent in the decades-old junk buried at the site, but both the county and Parametrix agree there’s no way of knowing how much is down there until they start digging.

The extra money, Battuello explained, would serve as a safety net just in case the solid waste contamination is more severe than expected.

“Really, what are goal is is to get as much cash as possible to help them remove more,” he said. “It’ll (also) help us address the arsenic problem which seems to be an issue everywhere in Gorst.”

Although one of the proposed new petroleum cleanup sites is in Gorst — the county has its eye on the abandoned gas station there — the $200,000 requested would go towards confirming all the Department of Ecology-listed sites county-wide and create to-do lists for redeveloping the worst ones. Another South Kitsap site — the abandoned gas station on Southworth Drive in Colby — is expected to become a high priority if and when the assessment is done.

“(The site) is two blocks from an elementary school, immediately adjacent to one of the most major salmon streams in Kitsap County — it needs to be looked at,” Battuello said.

The remaining $200,000 is slated for a rundown commercial/industrial site near the Navy mothball fleet in Bremerton.

Between now and the application deadline Dec. 4, the county will be meeting with local civic groups, trying to stir up interest in this latest endeavour. Although the county is mostly focusing on the areas it got dinged for in the last grant cycle — especially the requirement for utilizing existing infrastructure — it also wants the secure the community support the EPA also insists on for Brownfields projects.

“We haven’t seen a lot of input (so far),” Battuello said. “We’ve still got a little bit of work to do.”

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