Coon Rapids makes request for new federal EPA grant

Successful with a 2010 grant request to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the city of Coon Rapids plans to seek more funding from the federal agency.

To do so, the Coon Rapids City Council has approved an agreement for professional services with Hoisington Koegler Group for a grant under the EPA’s area-wide planning program.

In 2010, Coon Rapids received a $400,000 brownfields assessment grant from the federal agency, which was used for environmental assessment to pay for work at various brownfield sites in the city, mostly along the Coon Rapids Boulevard corridor.

According to Matt Brown, city community development specialist, city-owned properties in Port Campus Square, including the new ice center location, as well as the former Frank’s Nursery, the former McKay-Lincoln Mercury and the former Amoco gas station properties, were all locations on the boulevard where the EPA money was spent on environmental work.

Building on the successful implementation of that grant, the city is now requesting an area-wide planning grant from the EPA for the Coon Rapids Boulevard corridor, Brown wrote in a memo to the city council.

“This grant program funds activities such as land use planning, infrastructure planning and market analysis as opposed to environmental assessment work,” he wrote.

“The intent of the program is to facilitate an area-wide plan which will inform the assessment, cleanup and reuse of brownfield properties and promote area-wide revitalization.”

According to Brown, the focus of the planning activities if the grant is awarded will include the Port Evergreen District, specifically city-owned properties north of Coon Rapids Boulevard and south of TH 610, the Foley Boulevard transit station area and the Evergreen Business Park.

The amount of the potential grant would be up to $175,000 with the EPA likely to make a decision this fall.

According to Brown, the competitive nature of the EPA grant program prompted the staff recommendation to retain a consultant skilled in environmental work to prepare the grant application.

Requests for qualification from staff brought responses from two firms, who were both interviewed and a team led by Hoisington was recommended.

Hoisington will do the planning work in tandem with SEH (engineering), Landmark Environmental (environmental) and Maxfield Research (market analysis), Brown wrote in his report to the council.

The cost of the grant writing will not exceed $5,000 with the money coming from the city’s housing and redevelopment authority account.

If the city receives the grant, then an additional agreement will be entered into by the city with the consultant to complete the grant administration and planning work, according to Brown.

If the city comes up empty, then Hoisington will work with the city to revise the application and resubmit it for a subsequent round of funding, Brown said.

Marc Nevinski, city community development director, is optimistic the grant request will be funded given the successful implementation of the 2010 EPA grant, he said.

“This grant has a different focus from pre-demolition planning to pre-redevelopment planning,” Nevinski said.

The city would have three years to use the grant dollars if awarded, he said.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]