(SOUTHERN COLORADO) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday announced millions in funding for cleanup and revitalization projects across Southern Colorado.

The awarded funding will go toward projects in Trinidad, San Luis, Pueblo, and Buena Vista. Three of the grants are Brownfields Cleanup Grants funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and one Brownfields Assessment Grant, which will help fund environmental site assessments.

Trinidad Cleanup Grant

A Brownfields Cleanup Grant totaling $998,770 was awarded to the Mt. Carmel Wellness and Community Center in Trinidad, to clean up and restore the former Holy Trinity Convent and School on Church Street. The property is contaminated with asbestos, lead paint, inorganic contaminants and heavy metals, the EPA said in a press release.

Mt. Carmel Wellness and Community Center will use the EPA grant to clean up the 53,477‐square‐foot vacant building, which operated as a school starting in 1873 and later as both a school and convent until it closed in 2004. Once cleanup is complete, the building will be restored as apartments and a hostel and bar/restaurant, including more than 30 new guest rooms.

Holy Trinity Convent and School
Courtesy: Environmental Protection Agency

San Luis Assessment Grant

A $500,000 Brownfields Assessment Grant was awarded to the Town of San Luis to conduct environmental site assessments, develop cleanup plans and support community outreach activities at more than a dozen properties.

The target area for this grant includes priority sites along San Luis’ Main Street corridor, including a vacant former hardware company, two former gas stations, a former bank building and a vacant auto service garage. Cleanup and reuse of these properties will address pollution and provide new opportunities for job creation.  

Pueblo Cleanup Grant

The Keating School in Pueblo will receive a $1 million Brownfields Cleanup Grant to clean up the former Keating Junior High School on Orman Avenue. The school operated as a public school and education center from the late 1920s to 2009 and is contaminated with asbestos, mercury and other hazardous materials, according to the EPA.

Buena Vista Cleanup Grant

Watershed NP, Inc. in Buena Vista will receive a $979,222 Brownfields Cleanup Grant to clean up the 5,450-square-foot former McGinnis Gymnasium on North Court Street. The McGinnis Gym has been vacant since 2008 due to the identification of hazardous materials, including asbestos, lead-based paint, mercury and mold. 

The EPA’s cleanup grant will enable the gym to be restored to its original use as a recreational, educational and performing arts space serving the community. 

McGinnis Gymnasium
Courtesy: Environmental Protection Agency

Telluride and Silverton also received grants in this round of funding from the EPA.

“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is helping clean up and revitalize communities across Colorado,” said U.S. Senator Michael Bennet. “With this funding, Buena Vista, Pueblo, Telluride, Silverton, San Luis and Trinidad can make sure these sites are safe for the families living near them and restore them in ways that meet the communities’ needs.”