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Local

Rock Falls heading into ‘uncharted territory’

EPA will be back at riverfront site as city continues to pursue grants

Rock Falls officials are hoping they’ll get test results back in time to help determine whether they need to apply for an EPA grant to help with cleanup at the site of the former Limestone Building (shown here earlier this year). The deadline to apply for the $400,000 grant is Nov. 16,
Rock Falls officials are hoping they’ll get test results back in time to help determine whether they need to apply for an EPA grant to help with cleanup at the site of the former Limestone Building (shown here earlier this year). The deadline to apply for the $400,000 grant is Nov. 16,

ROCK FALLS – While much progress has been made transforming the riverfront along East Second Street, environmental work remains on the west side of the road.

City Administrator Robbin Blackert told the City Council on Tuesday that there is movement at the Limestone Building and Parrish-Alford sites.

The Limestone Building was knocked down in July, and environmental testing is ongoing at the site. Monitoring wells and soil borings are in place for water and ground samples. Additional tests were recently done, but the city won’t have the results until late this month or early November.

The city had decided to pursue a $400,000 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cleanup grant if the results were problematic, but they might not be back before the Nov. 16 grant deadline.

“We’ve talked to our consultants, Terracon, and decided it would be best to just write the grant and submit it in case there is any contamination at the site,” Blackert said.

The federal cleanup grant would require a 20 percent match from the city.

There will be a public hearing for the grant at the beginning of the Nov. 7 council meeting. Starting Monday, the grant will be on display at City Hall.

The Parrish-Alford site consists of about 6.5 acres of land just north of West Second Street between Fifth and Eighth avenues. Environmental work has been done there, but it hasn’t been completed. Blackert said the site work is basically on reset.

“Back in 2012, the EPA issued a no further remediation letter for the site, but it came with the stipulation that part of it remain capped with concrete,” Blackert said.

Now that a developer is interested in the property, dirt can’t be moved until more assessment work is done. The city said it wasn’t at liberty to name the developer.

Blackert said things are moving quickly and an EPA team will be working at the Parrish-Alford site Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week, and a couple of days the week after.

“We’ve been deemed eligible for EPA brownfields money and passed the first round, but at this point, we have no idea how much,” Blackert said.

There will be seven monitoring wells and soil borings at the site. Until more assessment work is done, the city has no idea as to how extensive the remediation work might be.

“It’s really uncharted territory, and this is just the first step in determining how the site will be dealt with,” Blackert said.

Environmental assessment work at the Limestone Building couldn’t be done until the demolition process had started. The condition of the building made it unsafe for the EPA to send workers in before the building was being knocked down.

NEXT MEETING

The Rock Falls City Council next meets at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 7 at City Hall, 603 W. 10th St. A public hearing for an EPA grant the city is writing will be held at the beginning of the meeting.

The agendas will be posted at rockfalls61071.net and at City Hall. Call 815-622-1100 for more information.

The council meeting also airs live on Channel 5.

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