Traverse City Record-Eagle

April 3, 2014

State funds secured for cleanup

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Grand Traverse County will receive $600,000 in state funds for cleanup of cyanide-contaminated groundwater beneath the Warehouse District off Grandview Parkway .

Jean Derenzy, Grand Traverse County’s deputy director of planning and development, said the county’s Brownfield Development Authority obtained a $180,000 grant and a $420,000 loan from the Michigan Land Bank to help clean cyanide-tainted groundwater at the site.

The Environmental Protection Agency must sign off on the transactions, but Derenzy said work on the contaminated groundwater likely will commence this summer.

“It’s to clean up the area and to have a positive impact,” Derenzy said.

Elevated levels of cyanide were discovered in groundwater in the Warehouse District during excavation of the Hotel Indigo property, east of the intersection at Hall Street and Grandview Parkway. The Indigo is a $15 million-plus project that’s considered the anchor project of Warehouse District redevelopment.

Indigo developers ran into snags last summer when groundwater pumped from the site during foundation work tested positive for cyanide levels far above what were expected. Cyanide measurements came in as high as 1,200 parts per billion on June 21, which raised concerns about the health of nearby Grand Traverse Bay. Some of the cyanide measurements at the site were 100 times higher than acceptable levels of environmental cleanup standards for aquatic health set by the state of Michigan.

The grant and loan money from the state Land Bank will be used to pay contractors to identify the extent of the pollution.

“It’s going to be used for identification of the plume, the width and the depth, and hopefully to get to some of the cleanup,” Derenzy said.

The Indigo project received a $600,000 loan from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, a $620,000 loan from the Environmental Protection Agency and a $420,000 loan from a local revolving loan fund.

Indigo developer Jeff Schmitz said construction is moving rapidly.

“We will be setting precast on Monday, putting up the structural steel … and we are going vertical,” Schmitz said.

Schmitz said developing the Indigo has been a challenge, but he thinks the project will be a huge benefit for northern Michigan when complete.

“It means a lot,” Schmitz said. “With all of the community involvement and support, it shows projects of this nature can get done.”