Congressman Greg Walden

Representing the 2nd District of Oregon

Greg Walden applauds Brownfields assistance secured by Grants Pass

July 20, 2017
Press Release

Greg Walden applauds Brownfields assistance secured by Grants Pass

Click here or on the image above to view Walden’s remarks

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, today applauded “Brownfields” assistance secured by Grants Pass. Walden said Grants Pass acquiring these funds will allow the city to utilize the Brownfields Program, which has had success in communities across Walden’s district, to clean up and redevelop the old Spalding Mill site. 

“The success of Grants Pass getting this grant to clean up the old Spalding Mill site is terrific,” said Walden. “We have a great record in Oregon using the Brownfields Program to cleanup these sites and put them back into active, productive use. At the Energy and Commerce Committee -- which I chair -- we’ve moved forward legislation to reauthorize this federal program. It is the first time since 2006 that this program has been reviewed and reauthorized. We prove it on the ground in places like Grants Pass and it plays well across the country to clean up these sites and put them back into productive use. I’m pleased with the announcement by the Trump Administration that they’re making these funds available to Grants Pass.”

This announcement comes as Walden has been working on bipartisan legislation at the House Energy and Commerce Committee to reauthorize the Brownfields Program. In June, Walden’s Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously passed the Brownfields Enhancement, Economic Development, and Reauthorization Act. This bipartisan legislation authorizes the Brownfields Program for the first time since 2006 and makes it easier for smaller communities -- like Grants Pass and others in Walden’s district -- to participate in the process of Brownfields cleanup and redevelopment. This legislation now awaits a vote in the full House of Representatives.

Grants Pass secured $200,000 in “Brownfields” grant funds from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help the city develop a plan for the cleanup, restoration, and future development of the area around the old Spalding Mill site in eastern Grants Pass. A Brownfield is a property where the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant may complicate its expansion, redevelopment, or reuse.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt says his agency is committed to working alongside Grants Pass as they work to redevelop this site. “EPA is committed to working with communities like Grants Pass to redevelop Brownfields sites that have can contribute to local growth in both the economy and quality of life,” said Pruitt. “EPA’s area-wide planning grants leverage considerable infrastructure and other investments, improving local economies and creating an environment where jobs can grow.”

Background on the Spalding Mill site

Grants Pass has long eyed the Spalding Mill area for redevelopment, and the 61-acre site was chosen by the EPA due to environmental concerns, proximity to transportation corridors and sensitive populations, history of disinvestment, reuse potential, and community need for economic development.

The mostly vacant former Spalding & Son sawmill site contains relics of former lumber operations such as drying kilns, lumber sheds, dust collection blowers, foundations, and an abandoned plywood factory. 

While the Spalding Mill site was historically used for industrial purposes, it is surrounded by natural features: Jones Creek, essential habitat for the endangered Coho salmon, flows through the site, and the Rogue River, one of the west's premier recreational assets, lies less than a quarter-mile south. At the far edge of the Grants Pass urban area, directly abuts verdant pastures, treed mountainsides, and a 100- acre park long popular with the community. Finally, the Rogue River Greenway, a 30-mile emerald necklace of parks and public access areas along the Rogue River linked by a ribbon of greenway trail between Grants Pass and Central Point, abruptly terminates at the eastern edge of the project area.

The city’s key partners on this project include:

•         Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development, Inc., a community-based organization; 

•         Business Oregon, through both its Brownfields and economic development divisions; 

•         Oregon Department of Environmental Quality; 

•         Grants Pass Urban Renewal Agency; 

•         Josephine County Solid Waste Agency; and Oregon Health Authority