This is a guest post from Kevin Thomas from KLIN’s Drive Time Lincoln.
A lot has been made public about the environmental aspects of the Haymarket Arena project in the past 24 hours, but I doubt you’ve heard the whole story.
You’ve heard that the EPA study of the Burlington Northern land confirmed what the HWS study told us well over a year ago. Yes, this is only part of the land that is part of the redevelopment project, but it is far and away the most important. Every single building involved in the City’s redevelopment of the West Haymarket area falls in the current BN footprint. Every one: Arena, hotels, parking garages, Breslow Ice Center, surface parking/festival space, retail and office space. It’s all right there.
Hopefully you’ve heard that the EPA study makes Lincoln eligible for about $1.5 Million in grant money for clean-up of an area that will in all likelihood cost less than that. Please catch that point: actual remediation estimations (not the worst-case scenario) based on the EPA and HWS data are less than the amount of grant money available to the City. Cleaning up this site could end up costing the City $0 because Brownfield and EPA grants could cover the entire cost.
The part you might not have picked up on is the best, in my opinion. I’ll leave the credentials of the no2arena environmental attorney out of this because her latest actions speak loudly for themselves. Lynn Moorer told 10/11 News this month that EPA documents say the Burlington Northern land posed a “threat of imminent and substantial endangerment to the public welfare and the environment.” There are three main points that Lynn didn’t tell us in that early morning interview, but you must know them in order to understand the lengths no2arena is willing to go to just to mislead the public about this project.
1. The EPA report Moorer is quoting was originally released April 1, 1993. 17 years ago. Sorry, no link, the EPA apparently wasn’t posting every document on the internet back then, but City environmental attorney Miki Esposito has seen the document herself and told us about it Thursday on DTL.
2. The EPA order designated that site as a Superfund site was lifted in 2003, meaning Burlington Northern had been working to adequately clean up the site.
3. That BN site addressed in the order Moorer is quoting is about a mile away from the proposed Haymarket arena site – Hobson Yard. That’s the rail yard you see when you drive along Highway 77 just South of West O. The City is NOT purchasing that site. That site is not in any way related to the arena project. That site is one mile away from the proposed arena.
So, in order to mislead people about how dangerous cleaning-up the Haymarket arena site would be, Lynn Moorer has quoted a 17-year-old report that is no longer valid and doesn’t have anything to do with the Haymarket. Let’s compare that information with, now, TWO scientific studies of the actual arena site showing that any contamination can be cleaned up for very little cost. Wait, we can’t compare it. Arena opponents haven’t presented a shred of environmental evidence related to the West Haymarket redevelopment and the information they have presented is a total lie. That information, combined with the EPA data, should be the end of the environmental portion of the Haymarket Arena conversation.