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Pittsburg Wins EPA Grant to Plan Clean-up of Post Mining/Smelter - KOAM TV 7

Pittsburg Wins EPA Grant to Plan Clean-up of Post Mining/Smeltering Contamination on 350 Acres

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    The city of Pittsburg wins a nearly 200-thousand dollar Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields grant.

     It's to create an area-wide plan for properties that might be contaminated from the city's mining past and includes three hundred and fifty acres near downtown.

Grant writers called it the mid-city renaissance area.

 City manager Daron Hall explains the name,  "If  Pittsburg  was a body, it would  be where the heart is.  And it's just the center of our town and I think it's critical  we address it and do whatever we can to make the most of it for the residents here. It's a great opportunity."

The acreage runs from Sixth street south to Washington and from Joplin east  to Rouse street. From Rouse people can see more than one hundred acres of Mission Clay property that's sitting idle.

Resident John Swartz says, "That's an eyesore.  There's nothing there to make anybody come in there because of the way it looks."

And because past mining and smeltering sites even beyond Mission Clay  are still contaminated.

Hall says, "There's just a lot of businesses that own property that have hot spots as we call them.

Whether its zinc, mercury or lead, heavy metals are in the ground, and  when humans  and heavy metals get together bad things happen."

Swartz and another local residents Reggie Smith  say they don't want the property to stay the way it is.

Smith says, "To me,  it would be environmentally the thing to do because I've grown up here and seen the place progress and also seen property go downhill."

The goal of the EPA Area-Wide Program grant is to find out how the property can be re-used.

Swartz says right now, " It's taxes lost. If we can get a grant to get the place cleaned up, then there can be some development in there.

Smith says, “They could use sections of it for park once its cleaned  up, but they could also develop it for an  industrial park. That's what it's been basically just one owner Dicky Clay for years and years and years. And  buy it off from participants as they were willing to sell at a reasonable price.

City manager Hall adds, “It's an opportunity I think  for  the city  to recapture some of our history, reclaim some land  that was critical at one point in Pittsburg history  and I think can be critical again in Pittsburg's future.”

Mission Clay owner Bryan VanSell would not comment on the EPA grant until he gets the chance to read it.  However, a local plant employee says Mission Clay has done work with the EPA at its property.

Hall calls Mission Clay one of many partners in the grant plan, “Mission Clay's been here for over one hundred   years. And they're still active, have part of their business on Fourth  street where  they still make products so,  we want to respect  they have been a long standing partner . They're continuing to talk to us about cleaning this up. It would give all of us an opportunity, not just the city, but them as well, to do something different. We're  always talking to them and  continue to talk to them although they're  in California  they realize they have a big part of their companies  history  in Pittsburg and they want to do right by city of Pittsburg too. “

       The city has two years develop a proposal to submit to the EPA for possible future funds.

     The city will create a steering committee and hold public meetings to gather input.

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