Renewal – Nonprofit gets $200k for cleanup
A site just outside of the Decatur city limits will soon undergo a major cleanup effort.
The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a $200,000 Brownfields grant to clean up a former gas station at 890 Columbia Drive, one of only two awards in the state of Georgia so far in 2014. The other project to receive funding is in Augusta.
The nonprofit that received the grant money, East Decatur Greenway, owns the property, which was developed as a gas station in the 1940’s. Director Michele Ritan said the nonprofit acquired the property in 2012, after it suffered years of neglect. It is near The Friends School of Atlanta and the Forrest Hills Neighborhood, both of which were big supporters of the project, Ritan said.
“It’s been a very rotten eyesore in a very nice community for so many years,” she said.
Ritan said once the petroleum contamination is removed from the property, the group intends to turn it into a trail head that will connect to the Avondale MARTA station. She said the group already has established a collaboration with the PATH Foundation.
“We want everybody to be able to use this place as both community green space and a jumping off point for the PATH trail,” Ritan said.
Before receiving the grant money, the EPA did a targeted environmental assessment, spending about $100,000 to do soil sampling, Ritan said.
“They removed the graffiti covered convenience store that used to be there,” she said. “The contractors leveled it.”
She said the EPA encouraged the nonprofit to apply for funds. The group wasn’t sure if they’d get any money out of the federal government, due to Congressional bickering and budget tightening.
In addition to the property itself, there’s also a stream adjacent to it that needs looking after, she said.
“There’s the east fork middle branch of Shoal Creek,” Ritan said. “While it did not show any petroleum contaminants in it, we want to protect that natural stream that borders the property.”
Ritan said the nonprofit will soon seek bids to do the cleanup work.
“We may be able to do all the remediation for $200,000,” she said. “If not we’ll be seeking some other funding .”