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Oak Creek jumps last hurdle as it prepares Lake Vista for re-use

May 14, 2014

Oak Creek — With the completion of contaminant testing in June, the city will finally be able to spend a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to prepare Lake Vista property for re-use.

To move the process along, the Common Council on May 6 approved a payment of $40,820 to environmental engineering firm Environ to test 30 acres of city-owned land at the former Peter Cooper plant for contamination.

The test results will help determine how the city should spend the $375,000 grant on debris and contamination removal and bluff restoration, said City Administrator Gerald Peterson. The city received the DNR's grant in June 2013 but has not been able to use it until this final leg of testing occurs.

"We feel we're making really good headway on the project," Peterson said. "(This) approach was necessary to continue the work on that site to bring it from an unused and closed industrial site to a usable, publicly owned and accessible-to-the-public lakefront property."

Arsenic is a major concern at Lake Vista, which may require up to 2-foot soil covers. Already, it has arsenic levels that exceed the state limit of 10 parts per million, he said.

"None of these are surprises. We hope that this is the last of it," said Peterson.

With remediation, the city can move forward public park development at the land's north end, including bike paths, native plantings, stormwater management systems and the new Lake Shore Boulevard roadway. About $10 million in bonds are invested for city development.

Also this year, the city expects to gain ownership of 56 acres owned by DuPont and 57 by Epic/El Paso Energy at the south end. Privately owned properties within Lake Vista's 250 acres, north of Bender Park, are each in different stages of remediation.

"Each property is a little bit different in what their ultimate goal is," said Doug Seymour, director of community development.

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