A Cleaner Park

RFP Construction Site

The redevelopment of Riverfront Park provides us with a fresh opportunity to bring the park up to a higher standard of environmentalism and sustainability befitting the former site of the first ever environmentally themed World's Fair. The journey to a cleaner park starts from the ground up, or in this case, below the ground, where help from EPA grants is allowing us to remove or safely encapsulate hundreds of tons of contaminated soil left from years of industry in the park prior to Expo '74.

EPA Brownfield Cleanup Grants for Riverfront Park Information

EPA has selected the City of Spokane for three brownfields cleanup grants totaling $600,000. These hazardous substances grant funds will be used to clean up contaminated soils at Havermale Island, Canada Island, and the North Bank Development Area – three sites in Riverfront Park, 64 acres of land and water in the heart of downtown Spokane and the location of the 1974 World's Fair.

Mayor: “We are growing Spokane’s economic vitality one park, one employer, one job at a time,” said Spokane Mayor David Condon, when the brownfields grant was announced. “Much of our strategic plan is built on partnerships, reinvestment and creative reuse of important neighborhood and community assets. The working relationship we have with the EPA is bringing that vision to life through the cleanup grants and past assistance in assessments, planning and technical guidance the agency has brought to the table for Spokane to further leverage the investments our citizens are making.”

Chris Wright, Park Board: “These three cleanup grants are a great boost in our efforts to revitalize Riverfront Park and the downtown core,” said Chris Wright, Park Board president for the City of Spokane. “With these grants we can spend fewer local tax dollars on environmental cleanup and more toward infrastructure and attractions in the new park – like a great floods-themed playground.”

What is a brownfield?

  • A property wherein its expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.
  • These often abandoned sites can create safety and health risks to surrounding residents, increase unemployment, and are frequently tax delinquent.
  • Brownfields include those sites once used for gas stations, dry cleaners, factories, warehouses, railroad switching yards, landfills, parking lots, etc.
  • It is estimated that there are more than 450,000 brownfields in the U.S. and more than 2,200 in Washington.

Is the park safe?

  • The ground is not toxic, and the park is safe. Kids and animals can play just as they have for years.
  • The park will remain safe during construction, and a stormwater and soil management plan are in place.
  • The largest impact so far is that stormwater in new construction areas must be designed to not drain through contaminated dirt unearthed during construction.

Why did we seek to designate Riverfront Park a Brownfield?

  • In the process of redevelopment we want to take advantage of any funding source that helps us improve our park.
  • We have anticipated running into contaminated soil but until a specific construction site is tested, we don't know the actual magnitude of cleanup. Environmental regulations were not as strict during development of the park for Expo '74.
  • We want to ensure bond dollars are primarily spent on redevelopment projects vs. cleanup.

What is the plan moving forward?

  • A Public Outreach and Involvement Plan concerning the Cleanup process and the grant implementation has been established. Please submit and Questions and/or Concerns regarding the EPA Grants and the Brownfield Cleanup at Riverfront Park to RFPCleanupEPA@spokanecity.org or by mail to City of Spokane, Planning Brownfield Program, 808 W. Spokane Falls, 3rd floor, Spokane, WA 99201.
  • The cleanup of Riverfront Park during the redevelopment construction is already being overseen by Ecology. Riverfront Park was entered into Ecology's Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP) in April 2016.
  • The EPA funded Cleanup work with be conducted during the construction activities on Havermale Island, Canada Island, and the North Bank.
  • The Riverfront Park Redevelopment Opportunity Zone Authority aka Parks Board will host public meetings as part of the Public Outreach Plan and grant implementation.
  • Once complete, the EPA's required Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) and Analysis of Brownfield Cleanup Alternatives (ABCAs) documents will be linked here.

Common Cleanup Terms

Contaminants of Concern (COCs) are chemicals, found at concentrations higher than those considered to be safe, and must be cleaned up and/or monitored.

Recognized Environmental Conditions (RECs) means the presence or likely presence of any hazardous substances or petroleum products in, on or at a property.

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) are a group of more than 100 different chemicals that are formed during the incomplete burning of coal, oil and gas, garbage, or other organic substances like tobacco or charbroiled meat.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are a class of chemicals that are volatile (evaporate easily) and are organic compounds (contain carbon atoms). Some common VOCs include acetone and automotive gasoline. VOCs are everywhere in both indoor and outdoor environments.

Nitrates are nitrogen-oxygen chemical units which combine with various organic and inorganic compounds. The major sources of nitrates in drinking water are runoff from fertilizer use, leaking from septic tanks, sewage and erosion of natural deposits.

Riverfront Park Committee Status Briefings