Grass Valley makes headway on toxic problems |

Grass Valley makes headway on toxic problems

Matthew Renda
Staff Writer

The city of Grass Valley has identified four areas within its jurisdiction where redevelopment would help the vitality of the municipality, but toxic substance issues continue to dog efforts to launch the improvement projects.

In 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provided the city of Grass Valley with $400,000 in grant money to make an inventory of the properties in four areas identified as eligible of significant redevelopment.

The city then hired Converse Consultants, which presented their findings at a public meeting Thursday in Grass Valley to a modest gathering of interested parties including property owners, said Izzy Martin, CEO of the Sierra Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to environmental issues connected with the legacy of mining in the area.

"The good news is that the majority of the properties analyzed were found to have toxic issues that were negligible, which would allow for redevelopment," Martin said.

If properties are found to have outstanding accumulation of hazardous materials, attempts at redevelopment would not be approved until the materials are cleaned up, Martin said.

Some of the properties that abut Empire Mine Historic State Park were found to have toxic issues that would prevent redevelopment until a remediation effort was successfully completed, Martin said.

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Many property owners were leery of undertaking the study, concerned they would be held responsible for problems that were not of their doing, but the study proves such investigations are beneficial, Martin said.

The four areas of the city analyzed in the study include Grass Valley's downtown business district, Colfax Avenue, South Auburn Street, and properties near Idaho Maryland Road.

Martin praised the city for undertaking the study, saying that redevelopment of properties existing within the city's current border prevents sprawling development while ensuring current developed areas are in proximity to emergency services.

The results of Converse Consultants study will be presented to the Grass Valley City Council at the Oct. 23 meeting, Martin said.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email or call (530) 477-4239.

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