Part of the $2 million federal funding will go towards two potential redevelopment projects in Libby.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced late last month that the Montana Department of Environmental Quality would receive part of a Brownfields Program grant to conduct environmental site assessments and spur redevelopment of dozens of properties. across Montana.
A brownfield is a property slated for redevelopment that may be affected by a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant.
The selected Libby projects are at the Old Pioneer Club, which is the future home of the Libby Food Pantry, and the historic Hotel Libby. Both sites are potentially affected by non-amphibole asbestos, according to the DEQ’s Brownfield Community Assessment grant application that was submitted to the EPA last year.
The app notes that time is running out for the pantry assessment, as the nonprofit hopes to move into the facility by the end of 2022. Building materials should be assessed before any renovations or renovation. The grant will allow the food pantry to use the assessment for a community development block grant.
The historic Libby Hotel, built in 1910, was Libby’s first grand hotel, according to claim, and was listed on the National Historic Register in 2012.
“Sadly, the historic Libby Hotel went out of business in the late 1970s and, like the community of Libby, fell on hard times,” the app reads.
According to the report, the current hotel owner’s plans to restore the building were put in jeopardy when the roof began to fail in 2020.
The site assessment would provide an asbestos inspection required by the DEQ before performing any roof repairs or internal renovations.
The assessment will also quantify and provide a cost estimate for any remaining hazardous building materials inside and outside the hotel, which is necessary to apply for historic preservation and other building grants. restoration.
Restoration of the 22-room hotel and restaurant would “serve as a catalyst for the revitalization of Libby by creating jobs, increasing tourism and reinvigorating Main Street,” the request states, noting that the hotel’s reopening could create 15 full-time jobs.
Both projects would align with Libby’s 2019 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy by creating jobs and serving the low-income population.
Additionally, Libby cannot afford to complete the assessments without financial assistance, depending on demand.
Other projects that will receive funding are in Anaconda and Billings.
“The EPA is proud to support Montana’s efforts to invest in property assessment, cleanup and redevelopment projects in the communities that need it most,” said EPA Regional Administrator, KC Becker, in a press release. “We look forward to seeing these Brownfields funds improve community health and create new economic opportunities in places like Anaconda, Billings and Libby.”
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., has touted the bipartisan infrastructure bill as key to getting funding for brownfields.
“By working across the aisle with five Republicans and four other Democrats, we were able to secure critical funding to reuse old or abandoned properties in the Treasure State and create high-paying jobs in Montana in the process. “, Tester said in a press release.