A Question For Summit Council Members: Do Superfund Sites Need Covid Aid?

Jul 12, 2020

Credit Summit County

Summit County has received a letter saying there’s yet another negative impact from the COVID-19 outbreak.   It has reportedly put a damper on financing for redevelopment on Superfund sites.

The letter is asking if the County Council, as owners of the Gilmor parcel, along a tailings watershed, want to seek COVID-related financial aid.  

In a brief discussion during the weekly reports to Council, Deputy County Manager Janna Young said they received a letter from the international law firm Squire, Patton and Boggs.   That firm had helped the county in negotiations with the EPA over the Gilmor parcel.

With construction funding for Superfund sites drying up, the letter reportedly suggests tapping into CARES Act money.    Young said the firm suggests the county could contact its Congressional representative.         

“The request has been that a Congressional member sends a letter to the Treasury Department, essentially asking the Department of the Treasury to use its authority under Section 4003 of the CARES Act to provide a credit facility and support of entities that are currently redeveloping Superfund sites, as, again, forms of liquidity have gone away.”

The funding, they say could help the county when it wants to develop the Gilmor site, or another Superfund location.

In conversation with Carolyn McIntosh, from Squire Patton, County Manager Tom Fisher asked why they’re affected, since the development portion of Gilmor was removed from Superfund.      

“She had indicated that, even though the development parcel is out of the Superfund site, there will still be transactional issues because of uncertainty associated with its history.   So as a result, construction financing may actually be a little more expensive or even harder for us to find, til we’re in a position to do that.”

In response, Council member Roger Armstrong said he would support a work session to get more understanding.    But he said he’s wary of unintentional consequences, or attempts to manipulate the  Superfund process.   He added it will be quite some time before they pursue development on the Gilmor site.

Council Chairman Doug Clyde said he agreed.    He said that large-scale developments aren’t likely the proper recipients of CARES Act money.     

“The CARES Act issue, as being something that we might use on our own property, seems pretty remote.  We should definitely have an understanding of what it does to other recipients of CARES Act funding, which is more—We don’t have any Superfund sites that we’re holding our breath on, trying to get redeveloped at this point, so that we can go buy groceries.   That CARES Act stuff, I think,  should be more directed to immediate needs of individuals and small businesses that are going to go Lights Out, as opposed to big developers that are looking to re-do Geneva Steel.”

Summit County Council Chairman Doug Clyde.