MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced the department awarded a Brownfields Grant to Monroe County to assist with the investigation of potential environmental contamination at two former railroad properties located near the intersection of Milwaukee Street and Walrath Street in Sparta, Wisconsin.

The grant is from the DNR’s Wisconsin Assessment Monies program, which provides contractor services worth up to $35,000 for the environmental assessment of eligible brownfields sites.

Brownfields are abandoned, idle and underused commercial or industrial properties where reuse is stalled by potential contamination. Brownfields vary in size, location, age and past use; they can be anything from a 500-acre former automobile assembly plant to a small, abandoned gas station.

The vacant properties in Sparta are adjacent to an existing railroad corridor that has operated since the late 1800s. The properties were used to store coal and lumber, included a freight house and contained a grain elevator. Monroe County acquired the properties through tax delinquency proceedings in 2016.

“Conducting an environmental assessment of brownfield properties is an important first step towards revitalization and reuse,” said Jodie Peotter, DNR Brownfields, Outreach and Policy Section Chief, Remediation and Redevelopment Program. “The DNR will work with Monroe County to ensure public health is protected and help get these properties back into productive use.”

An environmental contractor first conducted partial environmental assessment work at the properties in 2008 that resulted in the identification of soil contamination. With this grant, the DNR’s environmental contractor will perform an additional site investigation to identify the degree and extent of contamination at the properties. This work will help the county to evaluate potential remedial actions and future property reuse options.

Since 2009, the DNR’s Wisconsin Assessment Monies program has provided nearly $2.8 million to 71 communities across Wisconsin, partnering to help clean up and redevelop often run-down or underused properties that detract from a community’s potential. Applications for assistance may be submitted to the DNR at any time.

The DNR has a wide range of financial and liability tools available to help local governments, businesses, lenders, and others clean up and redevelop brownfields in Wisconsin, including Ready for Reuse financial awards, which may be used for environmental cleanup. DNR staff around the state are available to meet with community leaders, bankers, developers and private individuals to discuss brownfield projects through Green Team meetings.

More information about the DNR’s brownfields cleanup programs and services is available on the DNR’s brownfields webpage.

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