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Great Falls Development Authority awarded EPA Assessment Grant

Cascade Senior Center and Museum.png
Posted at 6:08 PM, Jun 03, 2024

The Great Falls Development Authority received a $500,000 Brownfields Assessment Grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct environmental site assessments for redevelopments across Cascade County. The newest facility to benefit from this grant is the Cascade Senior Center and Museum.

The grant covers the costs of EPA testing for contaminants on the property like asbestos, lead based paint, and petroleum spills. The testing is completed in two phases. Phase I is a general inspection to recognize what contaminants there could possibly be within the facility. If determined there is a risk, they conduct Phase II which is a more extensive dig into the asbestos, the lead based paint, and possible petroleum spills.

Small Business Development Advisor and Brownfields Project Manager Christian Nichols explains, “Brownfields redevelopment program is used for entrepreneurs either purchasing an old rundown facility or even just getting an inspection on the building. We do have the $500,000 for the redevelopment purpose. So, we really want to make sure that the word gets out that we have the opportunity to help these new businesses either expand or start.”

The Cascade Senior Center and Museum has plans to expand their facilities and add onto their historic building to better serve the expanding community, but require extensive EPA testing and are automatically pushed to Phase II due to how old the property is. In their 124 year old building, the Senior Center is home to numerous community programs like a medical equipment loan program, a museum holding hundreds of Cascade artifacts like Charlie Russell’s hunting license, a community center, and a food bank serving over 80 families in the area. With the help of the grant, their EPA testing is free of charge to the center.

JoAnne Eisenzimer, Office Manager of the Cascade Senior and Community Center says, “If you've ever been involved in building a new building or expanding a building, you realize the cost that is involved and every year the costs go up. Without these programs to help you out, it wouldn't be a possibility. And for these people, we are so truly thankful. We had a realization that we saved this money that now would have had to be spent on testing will come back to us.”

Currently, the funding is being used for redevelopment of six other properties:

  • Energy West Gas Manufacturing Plant, Great Falls  
  • Former Dick Grieb Buick, Great Falls   
  • Quality Life Concepts, Great Falls   
  • Westside Animal Clinic, Great Falls  
  • Discount Parts, Belt   
  • Antiques Café, Sun River   

The GFDA hopes to aid more than a dozen locations in Cascade County with this grant. For more information on the Brownfield Assessment Grant, click here.