Brownfield sites to be cleaned up

By ALEX ZANK - Daily News

Sept. 30, 2015

Puddles gather on the property of the old Bermico building Tuesday after an early morning rain in West Bend. The property has been identified as a brownfield target site for a redevelopment.  
John Ehlke/Daily News

Community leaders have identified at least four priority brownfield sites that will receive money from a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant for clean-up and redevelopment.

Last year, the EPA announced Washington County would receive a $600,000 grant to fund an effort to inventory, prioritize, clean up and ultimately redevelop sites.

The Site Redevelopment Committee, a group charged with handling the grant funds, met Tuesday morning to plan the next steps in prioritizing these former industrial or commercial sites that are in some way contaminated, barring them from immediate redevelopment.

Deb Sielski, deputy administrator with Washington County Planning and Parks Department and member of the group’s project management team, laid out where the $600,000 will go.

Each partner in this coalition will get $40,000 for their highest priority site, making up $200,000 of the grant.

The communities receiving $40,000 include West Bend, Hartford, Jackson, Slinger and Richfield.

West Bend’s priority site is the old Bermico and Blaine properties, which lie between the Eisenbahn State Trail and Milwaukee River on the northern end of the city.

City Administrator T.J. Justice said the area presented safety, health and environmental issues.

County Board Supervisor Michael Miller, a former mayor of West Bend, said the old Bermico building has been an issue for many years.

“I’ve been out of city government for 10 years, and it was a problem probably 10 years before that,” he said.

Hartford City Planner Justin Drew said the city’s priority brownfield is at the northern end of the downtown area, near the intersection of North Johnson and West State streets.

“There have been a number of false starts to try and redevelop this area into a mixed-use area,” he said.

Jessi Balcom, Slinger village administrator, identified the Niphos property on Oak Street as its priority site. And Village of Richfield Administrator Jim Healy pointed to an extensive property west of Interstate 41 and north of Highway 167 as its priority brownfield.

“This area … has been for the most part the source of a lot of discussion in terms of economic development for the village of Richfield,” he said.

The SRC will determine which sites will receive the other $400,000 in funding.

Jolena Presti, project manager with Vandewalle & Associates Inc., a consultant group working with the committee, gave an overview of the prioritization process for other brownfield sites.

She said the potential sites would be ranked based on redevelopment feasibility, environmental conditions and community goals.

Before delving into the clean up and development stages of any sites, there are a few steps the group has to take.

This includes two phases of environmental site assessments and a countywide inventory and site prioritization process.

The Site Redevelopment Committee formed two years ago after the Washington County Board of Supervisors voted to apply for the EPA grant.

The group also laid out reasons brownfield development positively impacted communities.

Some of the benefits the group listed includes turning liabilities into assets, creating more potential for economic growth, beautifying once-blighted areas, increasing communities’ tax bases and bolstering a sense of pride with residents.

Members of the community will also get a chance to share their opinions.

The committee plans on holding a county-wide community workshop from 6-8 p.m. Oct. 15 in MPTC’s auditorium, 2151 N. Main St.

Reach reporter Alex Zank at