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Ashland waterfront to get facelift with assistance from DNR Brownfield development awards

Contact(s): Christine Haag, Chief, Brownfields and Outreach Section, Remediation & Redevelopment Program, 608-266-0244,; Andrew Savagian, communications, 608-261-6422,

August 3, 2016 at 11:11:03 am

MADISON - Several properties in the northern community of Ashland are poised for redevelopment with the help of cleanup awards from the Department of Natural Resources.

The awards are a mix of grants and contractor services totaling nearly $450,000 to help clean up contaminated properties in the northern Lake Superior community.

"These awards are a win-win for Ashland," said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. "There's the environmental cleanup that happens with the help of these awards, and there's the economic development and neighborhood revitalization that is planned locally for the properties once they've been repurposed."

Stepp added that the awards are also good investments for the state. A recent report, "The Economic and Fiscal Impact of Wisconsin's Brownfields Investments," (exit DNR) commissioned by the Wisconsin Brownfields Study Group, found that for every dollar spent by the state on cleaning up and redeveloping brownfields, $14 are recovered.

"Cleaning up and redeveloping these properties fits squarely into Ashland's vision of a vibrant waterfront community," said Christine Haag, chief of DNR's Remediation and Redevelopment brownfields section. "After years of serving the community as part of the city's industrial past, the properties will become integral to the city's future."

Getting "Ready For Reuse"

The first two awards are DNR Ready for Reuse grants totaling $400,000. The city will use the grants to help pay for the removal and disposal of contaminated soil at the former Roffers Construction property, a vacant industrial lot on 12th Avenue in Ashland, just a few blocks from Lake Superior.

Ready for Reuse loans and grants are used for environmental cleanup of hazardous substances or petroleum at brownfields throughout Wisconsin. The former Roffers Construction property has a long history in Ashland, dating back to the late 1800s when it was the site of a railroad roundhouse. Later it was the site of the Ruth Manufacturing Company sawmill and lumber yard. Roffers Construction operated on the site from the 1950s until 2007.

"We've been actively working on the property acquisition, demolition of the old structures and planning for the eventual redevelopment of this site for about 14 years," said Bob Miller, grants administrator for the city. "This final cleanup would not have been achievable without the generous assistance from the Ready for Reuse program. Our goal is the complete transformation of this former heavy industrial site into a residential neighborhood containing approximately 30 new homes. By the end of this year, the site will be clean and the new residential development activities can begin."

In the last decade, DNR has awarded nearly $9 million in Ready for Reuse grants or loans to more than 20 communities across the state to help clean up contaminated properties known as brownfields.

Wisconsin Assessment Monies help jump start cleanups

The second set of awards are from Wisconsin Assessment Monies valued at approximately $45,000. These awards will cover the cost of contractor services to determine to what extent soil or groundwater contamination exists at the former Timeless Timber property, and on a short section of abandoned railroad line between Main Street East and the city's retired, iconic ore dock.

The grants provide communities with professional environmental assessments of contaminated or potentially contaminated properties and help prepare sites for redevelopment.

The Timeless Timber property was originally developed for residential use in the late 1800s. Around 1965, the property was redeveloped into a manufacturing and industrial site before becoming vacant in 2011.

The shipment of iron ore from Ashland ceased in 1965, but the city's enormous ore dock on Lake Superior is set to become a feature attraction for the community's tourism efforts. Part of that area's redevelopment potential includes the former rail line property that leads to the dock.

"Ashland continues to do great things to reshape the community in the face of changing economic times. We are honored to be part of their efforts," Haag said.

Haag noted that department WAM awards require minimal effort by applicants because there is no financial match or contract administration involved, making it an attractive opportunity for small communities.

In many instances, said Haag, WAM awards are also leveraged against other sources of funding to kick-start repurposing efforts on sites that otherwise may be stalled.

For more information, visit the DNR's website and search keyword "brownfield."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Christine Haag, Chief, Brownfields and Outreach Section, Remediation & Redevelopment Program, 608-266-0244,; Andrew Savagian, communications, 608-261-6422,

Last Revised: Wednesday, August 03, 2016

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