EPA cleanup grant goes to East Wenatchee park

Source: The Wenatchee World

EAST WENATCHEE — The new 9th Street Park is getting cleaned up and should be open to the public next year.

The Trust for Public Land, which purchased the 2.3-acre site in October, has been awarded a $500,000 grant through the Environmental Protection Agency's Brownfields Program.

According to the EPA, the property held a cherry orchard from the 1930s until 2008 and the trees were removed in 2011. The land is contaminated with metals and arsenic.

Cary Simmons, director of TPL's Northwest Parks for People program, said a cap will be installed this summer and fall.

"What's out there is very typical of properties all over the valley that either individuals grew fruit on or that were orchards," he said. "It's a pretty simple gravel cap, so just a layer of gravel over the site, and then on top of that we'll put topsoil and then planting. It's not an incredibly difficult or complicated cleanup; it's just a pretty large site."

After the cleanup, TPL will transfer the property to Eastmont Metropolitan Parks & Recreation, Simmons said. The trust will work with the parks district and Columbia Valley Community Health for public outreach this summer and develop a plan for the park.

Amenities like benches, signs and fencing must also be installed. The project should be completed by the spring, Simmons said, and then the park will be open to the public.

Located downhill from CVCH's Express Care Clinic, 9th Street Park will be the city's first new park since 1959 and will serve nearly 3,200 people within a 10-minute walk, Simmons said.

"It's located in a really important place within East Wenatchee where it actually is closing one of the largest gaps in the city for park access," he said.

East Wenatchee is one of 149 communities nationwide receiving about $64.6 million in EPA Brownfields Program funding. A brownfield is land where hazardous substances could hinder expansion, redevelopment or reuse.

According to the EPA, one study of brownfields showed $29 million to $97 million in additional local tax revenue was generated in a year after cleanup. Another study showed home property values near brownfields increased between 5 and 15 percent after cleanup.

"We are targeting these funds to areas that need them the most," EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a news release. "Approximately 40 percent of the selected recipients are receiving Brownfields grants for the first time, which means we are reaching areas that may previously been neglected, and 108 of the selected communities have identified sites or targeted areas for redevelopment that fall within opportunity zones."

An opportunity zone is an economically distressed community where new investment could be eligible for preferential tax treatment.