By Ted Shorack

The Bulletin

Several private and public properties around Deschutes County that are potentially contaminated have undergone environmental site assessments with federal grant money administered by the county.

The sites, known as “brownfields,” include Evergreen Elementary School property in Redmond and Cline Falls Power Plant west of the city as well as other locations in Redmond and Bend.

The assessments, which cost about $3,500 each, are barriers to owners who might want to sell or redevelop their property but must demonstrate to the state Department of Environmental Quality that the site is contaminant-free or in need of remediation.

Five properties that were evaluated and eligible for assessments could be chosen for a second phase and further testing, which would include soil sample analysis and potentially money for developing a cleanup plan if needed.

“These are steps that anyone has to do when they know they have potential contaminants on their property,” said Peter Gutowsky, a Deschutes County planning manager, on Thursday.

Deschutes County received a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to entice owners to address potential contaminants.

Eight properties were approved for the assessments because of potential contamination from past use of chemicals and less strict disposal methods. Some examples of brownfields include the sites of former gas stations or dry cleaners.

In September, the county held two public meeting to garner interest in the grant and assessments. The first phase involved reviewing records, inspecting the site and interviewing owners and neighbors to learn the land use history. The county hired an environmental consulting company to prepare reports based on the assessments and present them to the EPA for review.

Gutowsky said he is pleased the project received interest from owners and includes sites in Bend, Redmond and rural property.

About $90,000 of the EPA grant went toward redevelopment planning in downtown Redmond to complement the city’s urban renewal efforts.

Redmond city councilors voted in December to approve a $9 million contract for renovations to transform Evergreen Elementary into a new city hall. The site could be approved for the second phase of assessments.

The current city hall at 716 SW Evergreen is also one of the sites that could undergo a second assessment and further analysis, as could a privately owned property on NW Sixth Street, Redmond Airport property and Cline Falls Power Plant.

“We’re excited to be where we are and to have willing property owners interested in environmental site assessment as well as the municipality of Redmond,” said Gutowsky.

A county advisory committee is expected to meet in mid-February to begin prioritizing funds for the properties seeking second phase assessments.

— Reporter: 541-617-7820,

tshorack@bendbulletin.com

8929773