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PHOTO COURTESY OF CITY OF TIGARD - The city of Tigard expects to begin brownfield cleanup work at 12533 and 12535 S.W. Main St.The city of Tigard has been awarded $400,000 to help clean up two contaminated properties at Fanno Creek and Southwest Main Street.


The federal Environmental Protection Agency awarded the city two grants totaling $400,000 last week to help fix up 12533 and 12535 S.W. Main St. The lots are owned by the city and are slated for a major construction project as early as 2017.

Tigard's plans call for a six-story office building with retail and restaurants on the ground floor, and a small public gathering space that stretches across the street.

But there’s a problem, said Sean Farrelly, the city’s downtown redevelopment project manager. The site is listed as a brownfield — meaning that contaminants from previous tenants seeped into the ground, such as gasoline from old gas stations.

Over the years, Farrelly said, the lots served as home to a sawmill, a welding shop and a printing shop which contaminated the surrounding soil.

“There is contamination there; we know that,” Farrelly said.

According to the city, the soil under the buildings is contaminated with volatile organic compounds which can be toxic and carcinogenic. The sites also contain metals and other contaminants.

The sites doesn’t pose a health risk to people currently occupying the buildings, Farrelly said, but need to be dealt with before construction can begin on the new development.

“There could be some danger to the people who will be excavating the site,” Farrelly said. "We have to make sure everyone is working safely.”

The grant money will be used to remove contaminated soil, as well as pay for demolition of the current buildings, Farrelly said.

Clean up is expected to begin in September and could take up to 18 months to complete.

Tigard has several brownfield sites throughout its downtown. The city identified 70 sites in 2013 after starting a brownfield cleanup program.

The city sees brownfield restoration as a major step in redevelopment efforts. Because of the work involved to clean up the sites, brownfields can scare away developers, Farrelly said.

The awards are part of part of $55 million in grants awarded to communities across the country by the EPA, which offers financial and technical assistance to clean up brownfields.

Tigard’s City Center Development Agency, which coordinates redevelopment in the downtown, was one of three grant recipients in Oregon.

The city of Portland and Metro, the regional government, also received grant funding for brownfield cleanup. Metro is working alongside Clackamas County and Oregon City to tackle a nine-mile stretch of McLoughlin Boulevard.

“We support the vision of the Tigard City Center Development Agency, the Metro Coalition and the city of Portland as they work locally to bring new life to these underutilized properties,” said Sheryl Bilbrey, Director of EPA Region 10 Office of Environmental Cleanup in a statement. “We are pleased that the EPA brownfield grant funding will help leverage additional partners and resources to help make a visible difference in these communities.”


By Geoff Pursinger
Assistant Editor
The Times, serving Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood
503-906-7902
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