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Missoula County secures NewFields in push to win EPA Brownfields grant

Missoula has used EPA Brownfields grants to mitigate contaminated land and restore it to a usable condition ahead of redevelopment, including areas of the Riverfront Triangle. (Missoula Current file photo)

With a hope of landing a large federal grant to evaluate and clean former industrial land for potential redevelopment, Missoula County on Tuesday agreed to secure a professional firm to prepare the application.

Commissioners approved an agreement with NewFields for $6,000, hoping its professional grant-writing skills will make the county more competitive as it seeks a $500,000 Brownfield Assessment Grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“The Brownfield Assessment Grant is a fairly technical grant proposal,” said Sindie Kennedy, the county’s grants administrator. “We had written several grant proposals before this one and weren’t successful. But the last proposal we wrote, we utilized NewFields and were successful.”

In that last effort, Kennedy said, NewFields provided the work pro-bono. This time, the county plans to pay the firm for its work, hoping its expertise will shine favorably in the upcoming application process.

The county is seeking Brownfields funding to “evaluate and clean up reusable land, protect its natural resources and environment, and combat a housing shortage.” Missoula has used such grants before to mitigate contaminated land and restore it to a usable condition ahead of redevelopment.

“It’s a small investment for a potentially big return on investment,” Commissioner Dave Strohmaier said of the $6,000 contract.

Kennedy said the upcoming application process will be more competitive than those in the past. However, she added, there may be other opportunities down the road.

“It’s more than the last grant we got. It’s more competitive this time and there are fewer grants,” Kennedy said. “It might be harder for us to be successful this time. But with the new infrastructure bill that just passed, there’s even more opportunity coming along related to Brownfields.”