By Donna Kemp Spangler
Brandy Farmer, president of Centro Civico Mexicano, knows how to throw a party – or more precisely a press conference.
On November 29, 2016, the Centro Civico community center was overflowing with excitement. Dancers from Ballet Folklorico de las Americas performed on stage, twirling their colorful dresses. Authentic Mexican tacos were sizzling on the grill. And the guest list included dignitaries Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator Shaun McGrath, Salt Lake County Director of Economic Development Stuart Clason, and Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Executive Director Alan Matheson.
They came together to celebrate the cleanup of contaminated property that will give rise to a new civic center and senior housing in the heart of Salt Lake City’s Depot District near The Gateway.
The project is made possible by $200,000 Brownfields grant administered by EPA and another $200,000 matching grant from Salt Lake County.
A little over a year ago, Brandy and her board approached DEQ’s Division of Environmental Response and Remediation (DERR) when developers discovered soil contamination during a preliminary environmental assessment. The revitalization project is in an area that has a long history of commercial and industrial activities.
For those unfamiliar with the Voluntary Cleanup Program, it was created in 1997 as a way to clean up sites that many not otherwise have viable regulatory cleanup options. DERR has overseen numerous cleanups under this program, including the nearby Alta Gateway and Salt Lake City Intermodal Hub sites.
“DEQ assisted with helping us put together the grant, met with us, gave us advice, and has been with us every step of the way,” Brandy told me. “We couldn’t do this if it wasn’t for DEQ. And we are excited to take part in clean-up of the district.”
At the celebration, Alan Matheson praised the project as a “way to take an area that’s been blighted and turn it into a community amenity, a place that brings some prosperity to a neighborhood.”
DERR will oversee the cleanup project, which likely involves removal of more than 4,000 yards of contaminated soil that will begin in May. Brandy is hoping the groundbreaking for the housing complex will take place in June or July. The entire project is expected to be completed in 2020.
I invite you visit our website or check out our latest Brownfields Connection newsletter to learn more about the ways the DEQ Brownfields program has helped communities clean up contaminated sites around the state.
I am the Communications Director for DEQ and a former reporter for the Deseret News. I write a monthly blog post. You can read my previous blog posts at deq.utah.gov. You can follow me on Twitter @deqdonna