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Sparks takes second step to spur brownfield projects

John Seelmeyer

The now-vacant Top Gun Motors sales lot at 2139 Prater Way has been owned by Susan Kaiser’s family for about 50 years.

Now the family is looking to sell it for redevelopment but they’ve been spooked about potential contamination of the land.

The City of Sparks, working through a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is moving into the second phase of a program that’s helping owners of potentially contaminated properties including the Top Gun Motors site take steps that will allow for redevelopment.

For the past year, the city has contracted with Converse Consultants of Carson City to examine historical records on 18 properties to see if they might have been home to uses that might have resulted in contamination, says Karen Melby, a senior planner with the city government.

The studies have been free of cost to the property owners, who otherwise would face costs of about $5,000 for the preliminary studies.

Now the grant-funded process is undertaking more extensive looks at six of the properties. That work which also is free to property owners includes field samples and core drilling to determine the extent and type of potential contamination.

A seventh property, a vacant property at 1410 Sullivan Lane, may be added to the study list because it’s under consideration for a 50-unit affordable-housing development, Melby says.

In some instances, the city also may follow up even further as it pays for plans to clean up contaminated sites. Property owners, however, are responsible for the costs of the actual cleanup work.

Melby notes that the first stage of the review project cleared nine properties out of 18 that were examined. Environmental assessments often are required by lenders before they’ll finance redevelopment projects.

“We’re trying to help property owners get in position for redevelopment,” she says.

The free studies are available in the city’s redevelopment areas the Victorian Square area, the Conductor Heights neighborhood near Rock Boulevard south of the Union Pacific tracks and the commercial areas near Oddie Boulevard.

Kaiser says the review of the Top Gun Motors location provided the information that her family needs to prepare the site for a new user.

“Now we know what is there, instead of finding out in the middle of a transaction that we had a problem,” she says.