Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Sunday

May 4, 2014

Leelanau could lose EPA grants

TRAVERSE CITY — Leelanau County could lose $1 million in Brownfield redevelopment grants if no developers apply for the money in the next 18 months.

No one has applied for grant-funded low-interest loans available from Leelanau County since the program started four years ago.

Leelanau County received a $1 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2010 to loan to developers hoping to cleanup and redevelop Brownfield sites. The money comes from the Revolving Loan Fund, the same program that was used to clean up the Hotel Indigo site in Grand Traverse County.

But no one has claimed the money, and the fund’s unused balance reverts to the EPA in September 2015. Trudy Galla, the county planning director and director of the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, has “concerns” about being able to spend the money by the deadline, according to the January minutes of the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority meeting.

“Brownfields and redevelopment in the county is fairly new in Leelanau, so we don’t have as many projects going on,” Galla said. “We’ve got the funds here. We just need a developer to come on through.”

Money spent can be reused on future projects.

Leelanau County officials talked to Grand Traverse County leaders in February to see if they could form a coalition to spend the money together, Galla said.

“We wanted to make sure we use the funds in this area. If we couldn’t use it in Leelanau, we wanted to see if Grand Traverse County had projects, that way we could get the funds out and they would come back for repayment and we would have that available for future projects,” Galla said.

Galla said she’s heard of interest from people planning projects in Leelanau County since then, but none have filed formal applications. She said her office is putting out flyers and radio ads this week to try to garner more interest.

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