The St. Paul Port Authority announced this week that the $6 million clean-up and redevelopment of a former unpermitted dump and bowling alley in Frogtown marks the first use of federal brownfield stimulus money in the country.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded the Port Authority $1.6 million for the demolition and redevelopment of the former Minnehaha Lanes complex at Pierce Butler Road and Chatsworth Street. The site overlooks the 153-year-old Calvary Cemetery.
The Port has already used $200,000 in stimulus money to raze the 50,000-square-foot complex. The mayor's office says that redevelopment of the site could create up to 100 competitive-paying jobs. However, no specific plans for redevelopment have been released.
The EPA defines brownfields as properties where the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant prevents redevelopment. Left untended, brownfields can cause health problems and contribute to economic blight.
The Minnehaha Lanes complex functioned as an unpermitted city dump from the 1930s to the 1950s, before being converted into a bowling alley.
EPA environmental engineer Keary Cragan says the site is contaminated with several chemicals classified as "volatile organic compounds." The chemicals come from a variety of sources, including various oils, petroleum and metals. VOCs can cause serious health problems, including cancer and breathing difficulties.
The bowling alley was also found to be contaminated with asbestos, which was removed prior to the building's demolition.
"The brownfields loan and clean-up grants for the Minnehaha Lanes redevelopment project achieve the EPA Brownfields Program's goal to reduce threats to human health and the environment while attracting investment to Saint Paul neighborhoods," Cragan said.
The EPA awarded $37 million in federal stimulus money nationwide for brownfield clean-up and redevelopment this year.