Preliminary sites identified at Brooksville brownfields meeting

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BROOKSVILLE – The Brooksville Brownfields Project has identified 13 preliminary sites that could be contaminated with petroleum or hazardous waste and are eligible for an assessment.

The properties were selected during a meeting Wednesday night, which was attended by about 20 residents, city staff and a project team from Creative Environmental Solutions.

About 90 city sites, many of them old gas stations, fruit packing plants and auto repair shops, have been identified by a community task force that has been meeting since last summer.

On Wednesday, the project managers presented a short list of 10 properties for consideration. After community input and discussion, the list of 13 was agreed upon.

The sites chosen were:

?? The former Yandle Oil plant on Smith Street between South Brooksville Avenue and East Jefferson Street

??The former Bell Fruit packing house on West Jefferson Street near West Fort Dade

?? The former Seaboard Airline Railroad Parcel, located west of the CSX rail line east of South Main Street and south of Russell Street

??Three industrial parcels on South Main Street next to an abandoned citrus processing plant

??The former Brooksville Lumber on South Main Street and Hendricks Avenue

??A multi-family building at 834 Continental Drive owned by the Brooksville Housing Authority

??Three properties along the Good Neighbor Trail

? Two Smith Street residential properties that border the old Yandle Oil plant

?? The Brook Plaza shopping center at 650 Broad Street

A former crematorium located on Barnett Road was selected as an alternate.

These 13 sites are not the final list, however. The next step is for the project team to do more research on the parcels, determine eligibility and contact property owners for their participation.

Several residents expressed concern at the list of properties compiled by the city and project team.

Resident Richard Howell said he as unclear on how and why the properties were selected, and suggested a new team start from scratch to ensure more community involvement. A small subcommittee was set up during the meeting, and will add additional potential projects to the master list. Jimmy Lodato, who is running for Hernando County Commission, is part of the newly-formed committee.

Brooksville Councilwoman Lara Bradburn said she was concerned council members haven’t had any input on the sites being considered for the redevelopment program, and that the short-listed sites didn’t reflect a forward-looking vision.

“As you know, we’ve been trying to develop a master plan for our city. It’s a slow process but we have a good idea of the direction we’re going,” said Bradburn, who sits on local and state transportation boards.

“What you’re seeing on the map of today is not the map of tomorrow,” said Bradburn, mentioning the work being done by the city and Brooksville Vision Foundation toward reversing one-way street pairs in hopes of revitalizing downtown.

City council recently passed a resolution aimed at removing one-way street pairs in downtown Brooksville, just the first of many steps needed before any changes are made.

In 2012, Brooksville was awarded a $400,000 grant by the Environmental Protection Agency. The grant pays for properties to be assessed, but not cleaned up. The work must be completed by the time the grant runs out on Sept. 30, 2015, said Brian Kvam, project team member with Creative Environmental Solutions.

The next Brownfields meeting is set for May 22. City council is expected to review the site list in the coming weeks.

(352) 544-5283