WATERLOO — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday it has awarded Waterloo $400,000 to check for contamination and eventually redevelop numerous former industrial and service station sites.
“That’s good news. We’re excited,” Chris Western, the city of Waterloo’s brownfields coordinator. “We had, I believe, a two-year drought where we weren’t funded. We had gotten some pretty good grants (the previous) three years in a row. We were getting a little frustrated. We have so many sites that need to be assessed. There are a lot of sites people are wanting,” and waiting for environmental clearance to redevelop.
He said the grant will allow them work on 20 to 30 sites, he said.
“It’s a prime economic development tool,” since many banks will require an environmental assessment before loaning money to a developer for a business project, he said.
The money will primarily be used in the city’s third and fourth wards on the east side of town, generally between U.S. Highway 63 and East 18th Street. This includes the former Rath Packing Co. area to the Cedar River. The Rath neighborhood is a targeted brownfields area, Western noted; however, he said the money could be used in other areas of the city if warranted.
A property at 120 Center St. in the old Logan Avenue area “is a prime example” of how the EPA money could benefit redevelopment, Western said. If that site can be environmentally checked out and cleared, it could facilitate an expansion B&B Lawn Care next door.