What was once a petroleum-contaminated property was cleaned up and is being reused in a way that has both enhanced the environment and enriched the community of Seymour, Wis.
Recreational park space in many downtown areas is limited and does not always meet the needs of the local community. In an effort to address the problem, neighborhood and city residents are redeveloping smaller petroleum brownfield properties into city parks and other outdoor recreation areas.
A former service garage and gas station located in the heart of downtown Seymour was redeveloped into a veterans memorial and park. The former petroleum brownfield had six leaking underground storage tanks and was abandoned for almost 10 years. The responsible party was financially unable to clean up the property, so the city acquired it through tax delinquency. The city held community meetings to determine the most beneficial redevelopment option for the property - as a community park and green space. Then Mayor Henry Burrows, a veteran and member of American Legion Post 106, proposed a Veteran’s Park and Memorial site.
The city then obtained a local government liability exemption, which protected the city from future liability. The city also went through the site closure process with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to ensure that the remediation and redevelopment would progress in the correct and most efficient manner. The city was able to perform Phase I and Phase Ii environmental assessment at the property and also conduct a full site investigation with funding from the DNR Brownfields Site Assessment Grant.
In addition to the local government liability exemption, the city also received a general liability clarification letter from DNR’s Remediation and Redevelopment (RR) Program. The city utilized funds from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce’s Petroleum Environmental Cleanup Fund Awards (PECFA) Program to clean up the remaining leaking underground storage tank contamination. The grant was used to excavate and properly dispose of 525 tons of petroleum-contaminated soil, remove the six underground storage tanks, demolish buildings and remove asbestos. Throughout the project, RR Program staff assisted with project plans and reports, oversaw remediation activities, and approved the site closure.
The Veteran’s Park and Memorial has attracted residents back to the downtown area by providing space for the community to enjoy in its heart. Each year a Memorial Day parade and program attracts hundreds of local and area residents.
Through working with the community and the state environmental agency, the City of Seymour reused a brownfield to serve as a place of remembrance, beauty and recreation.