Oct 282011

By Teri Walker–

The Holbrook City Council passed a resolution Tuesday night to join a coalition to seek a $1 million grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to clean up asbestos, lead and mold in derelict buildings.

The city will be a partner in the Brownfields Coalition, a group of cities and counties along Historic Route 66 joining forces to apply for the annually awarded grant. The cities of Flagstaff, Winslow and Holbrook have signed on for the grant proposal, along with Navajo and Mohave counties.

The EPA awards about $75 million in grants each year to fund the assessment and clean up of brownfield properties, which are standing idle or undeveloped because of either perceived or real contamination.

One portion of the grant program is the Community-Wide Assessment grant, which is awarded to partnerships including three or more government entities. Flagstaff has been successful in securing two previous brownfields grants, and the partnership has agreed the city would take the lead on the application process and would administer the grant.

In a previous city council meeting, City Manager Ray Alley said, “At first I didn’t want to participate with this grant because I thought it only pertained to underground gas tank contamination, but when I learned it could address asbestos and lead, I decided we should participate because it could help in our ongoing abatement of derelict properties in the city.”

If the coalition is successful in its bid for the grant, partners would submit project requests on a first-come, first-served basis. Coalition partners would then review and vote on projects to be funded.

The grant application is due Nov. 28.

In other business, Alley reported the street crew has completed 300 feet of roadway on East Florida Street in Clearview Heights and will be continuing to work on road construction in that neighborhood.

Alley also commented on American West Potash releasing the results of its resource report last week, which called for moving forward toward mine development. “It looks positive,” said Alley, who mentioned he and Mayor Jeff Hill would be meeting with American West President and CEO Pat Avery on Nov. 15.

Alley reported that Summit Health Care closed escrow the previous day on the property on Navajo Blvd. it purchased from the city, and construction will begin when the weather warms again in the spring.

He also noted that he had not had time to participate with the Real Arizona Corridor, a regional economic development group addressing Navajo and Apache county communities, but would like to see the city represented with the organization, which won a 2010 Governor’s Excellence Award for innovation in economic development. Vice Mayor Charlie Haussman said he would be interested in representing the city with the group; his participation will be ratified at the next city council meeting.

Holbrook Police Chief Mark Jackson attended the council meeting and secured approval to expend grant funds the department received through the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. The department will use the money, totaling $9,225, to replace breathalyzer machines to measure blood alcohol content and in-car radar units used to detect speeding.

The council also approved spending up to $6,843 to have Precision Electric of Phoenix repair a pump for one of the city’s sewer lift stations.

To help ease financial strain for the local American Legion Post No. 37, the council voted to enter into an agreement with the Legion for use of the John Barrow Little League Field property, which is adjacent to the American Legion Post. The city has long used the field for Little League games, but the formal property use agreement gives the city the authority to authorize improvements to the field. Alley explained there have been entities, including Arizona Public Service Co. and the Arizona Diamondbacks, which have been interested in helping make improvements to the field, but required the city to demonstrate its authority to give permission for improvements. With the new agreement, the city can do so.

Alley said the terms of the agreement include the city waiving all water, wastewater and sanitation fees for the Legion, which amounts to about $150 per month.

“It is a tradeoff to try to help the Legion because I don’t want to see them have to close down,” said Alley, who explained that the Legion has been struggling financially and is at risk of having to close if it can’t offset the costs of operating the post.

“Now, when there is interest for grant funding, we can show that we have control of the field,” said Alley.

Finally, the city council approved a lease contract for ICS Strategic Partners, doing business as Operation 29:11, to occupy a vacant building on Hermosa Drive on the former Northland Pioneer College campus. Operation 29:11 will be using the building as a warehouse facility, storing donated food, clothing and other items that the non-denominational Christian charitable organization distributes to Native American communities in the region.

The lease terms call for a $1 payment to the city by the group, which Councilman Richard Peterson said is interested in expanding into a much larger operation in the future.

“They’re pretty excited about the location of Holbrook, allowing them to provide services to the surrounding reservations,” said Peterson.

The next city council meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, November 8, at city hall, located at 465 First Ave.