An EPA grant will be used to clean up asbestos-containing materials and inorganic contaminants from the Fort Worth Convention Center arena. Photo courtesy of City of Fort Worth.
June 23, 2023
Funds from a 2023 Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Cleanup Grant will be used to clean up the asbestos-containing materials and inorganic contaminants from the Fort Worth Convention Center arena.
According to a city of Fort Worth news release, the city was selected as a 2023 EPA Brownfields Cleanup Grant recipient. The arena, which has been identified as having asbestos-containing material, is set to be demolished in late 2026 as part of the convention center’s renovation and expansion.
“The city of Fort Worth is pleased to have been selected for a 2023 Cleanup Grant from the EPA’s Brownfields Program, a program that has long been a valuable tool in community revitalization and economic development in Fort Worth and across the U.S.,” Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker said. “This grant award will directly contribute to the long-awaited expansion of the Fort Worth Convention Center, a project that will promote our community on a local, state, national and even global level and bring visitors and dollars into Fort Worth’s local businesses and vibrant tourism economy.”
According to the news release, Fort Worth is among 262 communities selected to receive 267 grants totaling more than $215 million in competitive EPA brownfields funding through the Multipurpose, Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund and Cleanup (MARC) grant programs. This represents the highest funding level ever announced in the history of the brownfields program.
According to Daniel Miracle, the city of Fort Worth’s brownfields coordinator, a brownfield is a property, for which the expansion, redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant.
“Examples of brownfields projects here in Fort Worth include Montgomery Plaza, the Evans Avenue/E. Rosedale Street Area, the Victory Forest and Greenbrier Community Centers, plus numerous greenspace creations and expansions,” Miracle said.
EPA brownfields grants help remove longstanding barriers to reuse and spur new redevelopment to transform communities into sustainable and environmentally just places. According to Miracle, there were 15 total grant recipients in Region 6, which is considered the south-central region of the United States. States in Region 6 include Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas as well as 66 Tribal Nations. Five of the 15 Region 6 recipients were in Texas.
BROWNFIELDS VS SUPERFUND SITES
Brownfields often get confused with sites that are considered “Superfund” sites because both are contaminated sites that need remediation. The difference between the two is that Superfund sites are heavily monitored by the EPA and are among the country’s most hazardous sites. Brownfields are typically abandoned industrial and commercial facilities, and cleanup does not require direct involvement from the EPA.
There are currently eight Superfund sites in the DFW area.
Four are in Dallas County — Bio Ecology Systems and Delfasco Forge in Grand Prairie and RSR Corporation and Lane Plating in Dallas, the later of which spurred activists to lobby in DC for action in 2019.
THE PROBLEM WITH ASBESTOS
The Fort Worth Convention Center, formerly known as the Tarrant County Convention Center, was built in 1968. Courtesy of the city of the Fort Worth.
The Fort Worth Convention Center, formerly known as the Tarrant County Convention Center, was built in 1968. According to the city news release, the city purchased the convention center in 1997 from Tarrant County and currently hosts conventions, exhibitions, meetings, social and sporting events within the 13,000-seat arena. A comprehensive asbestos survey identified approximately 97,263 square feet of asbestos-containing materials.
According to the EPA, asbestos is a mineral fiber that, due to its fiber strength and heat resistance, has been used in a variety of building construction materials for insulation and as a fire retardant. Asbestos fibers may be released into the air by the disturbance of asbestos-containing material during product use, demolition work, building or home maintenance, repair and remodeling. Exposure typically occurs only when the asbestos-containing material is disturbed or damaged in some way to release particles and fibers into the air. Exposure to asbestos increases the risk of developing lung disease and symptoms may take many years to develop following exposure.
According to Miracle, asbestos surveys conducted in 2004 and 2017 identified asbestos in the spray-on fire proofing, texture on concrete, spray-on acoustic ceiling texture, thermal insulation on pipe fitting, and floor tile and mastic. Asbestos containing materials will be abated and removed prior to demolition/renovation of the convention center.
Miracle went on to say that the cost estimate for the convention center asbestos abatement is approximately $1M. The EPA Clean-up grant will provide $1M for the clean-up, should additional asbestos containing materials be discovered.
A rendering of the renovated Fort Worth Convention Center. Courtesy of the city of the Fort Worth.
The convention center expansion plan is for the overall renovation of the current facility, which includes the arena demolition, to create approximately 97,000 square-feet of total exhibit hall space, additional flexible meeting rooms and a new 60,000 square-foot ballroom.
“The total estimated cost of the Fort Worth Convention Center expansion project is $606 million,” Miracle said. “$95 million has been approved by the city for the first phase of the expansion, which includes construction of new food and beverage facilities, a new southeast entrance, the realignment of Commerce Street and the re-building of the loading docks. The second phase is scheduled for 2026 and includes asbestos abatement of the arena area prior to demolition.”
Miracle went on to state that the city of Fort Worth manages its existing EPA grants, including the current assessments grant and revolving loan fund grant. The city also applies for additional EPA funding as it becomes available, including assessment grants.
For additional information regarding the city of Fort Worth’s Brownfield Program, please visit the city’s Brownfields website. See more about EPA grant selections and grant solicitations. Search for Super Funds sites where you live.
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