EPA awards $300K grant to support property cleanup, redevelopment in north-central MT

Posted at 3:35 PM, Jun 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-05 17:55:28-04

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is awarding the Sweetgrass Development Corporation a $300,000 Brownfields assessment grant for property cleanup and redevelopment in north-central Montana.

The grant targets properties on the Blackfeet Reservation and in Glacier and Toole counties.

Sweetgrass will use the EPA funds to conduct environmental site assessments and develop cleanup plans in Browning, Cut Bank, Heart Butte, and Sunburst, located along U.S. Highway 2, which leads to Glacier National Park, and Interstate 15, which leads to Canada.

A press release states that by focusing funds in Browning, the largest community within the Blackfeet Reservation, redevelopment will create tourism jobs and services and improve the quality of life for the most disadvantaged in the target area.

Sweetgrass Development is among 149 communities selected to receive grant awards totaling $64,623,553 million in EPA Brownfields funding through our Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup (MAC) grant programs.

“This award will allow Sweetgrass Development to continue a very successful program within our five-county region. The properties identified along Highway 2 and Interstate 15 will not only assist the communities with redevelopment and increase the tax base, but tourists passing through our region will see thriving communities, places that they will want to return to visit,” said Sarah Converse, executive director of Sweetgrass Development.

Sweetgrass has identified several properties as priorities for assessment, cleanup and redevelopment. These include:

  • The Teepee, Browning – The Teepee is a well-known and highly visible property that has been formerly used as a fireworks store and coffee shop. While numerous businesses have expressed interest in redeveloping the property, the presence of asbestos and lead-based paint have prohibited reuse.
  • Fire Hall Property, Heart Butte – The former fire hall property has known asbestos and lead-based paint contamination. Cleanup and demolition will make the site available for a new gas station, convenience store, and a park.
  • Glacier Hotel, Cut Bank –  The former Glacier Hotel is currently vacant and in disrepair. Previous assessments have confirmed the presence of asbestos and lead-based paint, with buildings in need of additional assessment. This site is a priority as potential redevelopment includes a shelter for women and children who are homeless or trying to escape violence.
  • Suta South, Sunburst – This vacant property in Sunburst, a former gas station, is the subject of redevelopment plans to create a rest area with automotive battery charging stations sourced with solar power.