The Lackawanna Mill is pictured Tuesday, Aug. 31.
The Town of Silverton plans to seek a Brownfields Assessment Grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to develop plans to rehabilitate the old Lackawanna Mill and reuse the historic structure to support economic development and heritage tourism.
Mark Walker, project director for the Colorado Brownfields Foundation, said a grant of up to $200,000 may be available, with no match from the town required.
He said if the town applies by Oct. 15 and the application is approved, “conceivably you could be using the grant next summer.”
Walker advised that the town take a “corridor approach” to also look at the old town dump along the Animas River. That site is on BLM land that is slated to be conveyed to the town.
He said the town could seek funding to plan the redevelopment of the Lackawanna Mill and manage its liability for assuming ownership of the old dump.
He advised the town to make sure it is “absolved from liability” before it takes title to the old dump from the BLM.
And he said applying for the assessment grant for the corridor along the Animas River from the Lackawanna Mill to the dump would make a strong application.
Town Trustee John Schertz expressed concern that if the town were to seek the grant and fail to get it, it could face EPA enforcement action.
But Walker said that under current law, the EPA would be “unlikely” to do that unless there were an imminent threat to public health and safety.
“I don’t see any imminent threat out there,” Walker said.
Town Planner David Michaelson said he has been up to the mill several times in the last few weeks and has made sketches and “come up with ideas I think are appropriate for the site.”
He suggested some sort of public use for the complex, with perhaps secondary commercial uses.
“That could be a real feather in our cap,” Michaelson told the Town Council, and he said the town would be well-advised to take advantage of the grant opportunity as a “practical funding mechanism without a match.”