Fairpark wins environmental rehab award

TUPELO – The city will be recognized nationally next month for turning an environmentally contaminated area into the popular downtown Fairpark District.
Officials behind the Fairpark District, along with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, learned this week that they had won a Phoenix Award for their efforts with the Tupelo Fairgrounds Redevelopment Initiative.
Sixteen Phoenix Awards are given out every two years by the Phoenix Award Institute, a nonprofit enivronmental and service group.
The awards recognize individuals and groups who work together to transform an old, environmentally contaminated area into a productive new area.
The Fairpark project met the qualifications because the park around the Frances Reed Memorial Fountain by City Hall originally had soil and groundwater contamination from a commercial laundry that used to be on the property.
According to Debbie Brangenberg, executive director of the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association and the city’s liaison to the Tupelo Redevelopment Agency, Long’s Laundry closed in the 1970s.
Yet the chemicals it used for dry cleaning continued to contaminate about one acre of shallow groundwater.
The Tupelo Redevelopment Agency, the city-created group charged with overseeing the development of Fairpark, worked with the MDEQ and a private company, Eco-Systems, to remove the chemicals and monitor the levels.
Ten years later, the chemical levels pose no threat to humans or animals, Brangenberg said. Fairpark also has graduated from quarterly monitoring to annual monitoring.
She will accept the award for the best 2009 project in U.S. EPA’s Region 4 next month in New Orleans at the 2009 U.S. National Brownfields Conference.

Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or carlie.kollath@djournal.com.

Carlie Kollath