The Missoula Food Bank will receive a grant from the city’s Brownfields revolving loan fund to pay for the reclamation of a property where it plans to construct a new building early next spring.

Last month, the food bank closed on the purchase of its 1-acre lot at 207 N. Catlin St., where it plans to build the new 22,000-square-foot facility.

“Part of the purpose of doing due diligence in the purchase was to make sure the site was either clean, didn’t have hazards or could be cleaned up,” said Nancy Harte, grants manager with the Office of Grants and Community Projects. “So we requested the EPA do a targeted Brownfields assessment.”

The EPA contracted Western Solutions Inc. to conduct a phase 2 environmental site assessment. The work found that asbestos and lead-based paint were present in several buildings on the property slated for demolition.

The samples also found contaminates present in surface soils. The assessment offered recommended cleanup options meeting either commercial or residential standards, with costs ranging from $66,580 for commercial cleanup to $104,012 for residential cleanup.

The Department of Grants recommended residential cleanup, along with a Brownfields grant of up to $100,000 to cover the costs of remediation. The committee that oversees the loans unanimously approved the request.

“This property is right on the border of a transition from commercial to residential (neighborhood),” said Harte. “The costs might be less than expected. The estimates included abatement on five buildings, but since then, the owners have removed two of them.”

The Missoula Food Bank provides emergency food assistance and has outgrown its current facility at 219 S. Third St. W. It announced earlier this year its plans to build a new facility, and it closed on its purchase of the Caitlin Street property last month after the environmental assessment.

Food bank executive director Aaron Brock and development director Jessica Allred said the existing facility has no room to expand its programs and support services.

The food bank is operating from four facilities, making it hard to operate as efficiently as possible.

“To house all operations and administration under one roof will increase our community’s capacity to address hunger as a systemic issue,” Brock said. “It will offer a more dignified and appropriate environment for the distribution of needed food resources to our struggling neighbors.”

Brock said a contractor to conduct the cleanup has not been selected. Bidding will take place this month and cleanup will begin this fall, with construction starting next spring.

"I would certainly suggest that if you run into anything else, come back," Mayor John Engen said.

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