From the beginning, we knew soil contamination was a concern at the former Hillcrest Golf Course. Initial tests showed signs of soil contamination, resulting from mercury-based fungicides used between the 1930s and 1990s to reduce mold growth on greens and fairways. In addition, we found traces of petroleum-based products used in general course operations. In both cases, contamination was only found in the top 36″ of soil.
While there is no immediate threat to the community, it important not to disturb the soil before remediation. Soil and natural grasses are holding contaminants in place. Unforeseen disturbances could have a negative impact. For this reason, the Saint Paul Port Authority has installed fencing to keep trespassers out and protect the site’s integrity.
Once a final Master Plan is in place, the Port Authority will lead the process of removing and/or reusing contaminated soils in a way that protects the health and safety of the neighborhood. We will take the most contaminated soils off-site.
We will then reuse lesser contaminated soils under roads, parking lots, and utility areas where they won’t be disturbed. Finally, we will place environmental covenants on underground soils to protect future generations.
Throughout this process, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture will be the primary regulatory body. In addition, the Port Authority will follow the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency‘s regulatory process from start to finish. Together, these programs protect both the community and workers on the site by limiting the spread of contamination.
So far, soil contamination at the former Hillcrest Golf Course hasn’t been a hot topic. In fact, residents have mostly been interested in land use. With that being said, we will accelerate these conversations as we move forward with our remediation plan (summer 2021).
Community conversations will revolve around the following topics:
- Informing the public about the nature of the contamination, as well as the clean-up process that will follow.
- Reinforcing the fact that the remediation process will be conducted in accordance to current laws and processes, which are in place to protect residents and workers.
- Educating the public about how they will be protected from fugitive dust during the remediation process.
- Addressing neighborhood concerns about how storm water drains off the site.
The Port Authority is actively seeking grant funds at the city, region, state, and federal levels. These include:
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Cleanup
- Funds available for carbon reduction strategies
ALTERNATIVE URBAN AREA WIDE REVIEW (AUAR)
The City of Saint Paul has kicked-off the AUAR process. According to the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board, the AUAR helps local governments look at the impacts of anticipated development scenarios within a given geographic area. This information then informs planning and zoning decisions. Since this is not our area of expertise, we have contracted with WSB to assist with this process.