Wisconsin Department of Commerce Newsletter
August 2006
PECFA Helps Clean Up Contaminated Properties

Since the introduction of the State of Wisconsins Brownfields program in 1998 hundreds of blighted properties have been cleaned up and subsequently redeveloped placing these once tax-delinquent properties back onto state and local tax rolls. Recently Brownfields capacity has been expanded to include funding to expand green spaces such as parks, waterfront walkways, and other recreational areas.

A state program housed in the Department of Commerce (Commerce) has in the past, and continues to assist in the redevelopment of contaminated properties as well as the creation and expansion of green spaces. The program is known as the Petroleum Environmental Cleanup Fund Act (PECFA).

River Walk Before

River Walk Before

River Walk Before

River Walk After

River Walk After

River Walk After

The PECFA program was created in response to federal regulations requiring release prevention from petroleum storage tanks and cleanup of existing contamination from those tanks. PECFA is a reimbursement program returning a portion of incurred remedial cleanup costs to owners of eligible petroleum product systems. Although not known as a Brownfields program many of the contaminated properties that the PECFA program has funded cleanups for have been redeveloped, therefore, increasing the state and local tax base as well as the creation or expansion of green spaces. The City of Medford is just one example of how PECFA assisted in redevelopment of blighted properties.

The City of Medford, located in north central Wisconsin, initiated and continues to expand their economic development plan to draw business and industry to the area. In 1995, Medford was awarded a grant from the Wisconsin Community Development Block Grant Economic Development Program (CDBG-ED) enabling the city to restore many of their historic buildings in their downtown area. In addition to building restoration the city continues to redevelop their historic Medford City Park which borders the downtown area.

The Medford City Park was established in 1890 consisting of 100 acres and is the corner stone of the citys parks. Since 1979 the park has expanded to include an outdoor swimming pool, playground, four park shelters, restroom facilities, tennis court, volleyball courts, softball fields, concession stand, nine recreation vehicle camping facilities, outdoor skating rink, and skate park. All these recreational facilities are bordered, by the scenic Black River which flows into Mill Pond in the heart of downtown Medford.

To increase the beauty of the park, the city made plans to create a "River Walk" which would parallel the Black River and Mill Pond through the downtown area. In addition the city would locate picnic/barbecue areas along the walkway. In order to accomplish this, the city had to acquire three petroleum contaminated properties located along North Main Street paralleling the Black River and Mill Pond. These three properties were known as Tlusty Oil Company Bulk Plant, Zuleger Oil Bulk Plant, and Guziak Oil Bulk Plant.

The Tlusty Oil Company Bulk Plant, Zuleger Oil Bulk Plant, and Guziak Oil Bulk Plant were primarily utilized by the railroads as fueling depots containing over eighteen above ground storage tanks (ASTs) as well as underground storage tanks (USTs) on these three neighboring properties. Prior to the city purchasing the properties, environmental site assessments were conducted at all three locations and all three were identified as containing petroleum contamination as result of petroleum spills or leaking storage tank systems.

The owners of the three properties filed for and received PECFA funding to define the degree and extent of the contamination, determine if the contamination posed a threat to human health and the environment and take cleanup actions to remove that threat. Following PECFA eligibility all the tanks and buildings were removed and cleanup activities ensued between 1995 and 2001.

During cleanup activities at all three sites the PECFA program worked in conjunction with Medford while the city not only developed the River Walk but redeveloped North Main Street where the properties were formally located. The PECFA program assisted Medford by providing over $173,000.00 in funding to the owners of these three properties to define and remove petroleum contamination.

Following cleanup activities the city purchased the properties and redeveloped the area including the creation of the River Walk. As a result the city increased the aesthetics and property values of the downtown area.

Although the PECFA program was not intended as a Brownfield program it is evident that PECFA funding has in the past and continues to directly or indirectly affect the redevelopment of petroleum contaminated properties by either increasing property values and/or increasing the aesthetics of the property.

-- Brian Taylor

The newsletter is issued electronically every other month.

Please send comments or questions to Barbro McGinn, editor.

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