Mad River Union
SAMOA – The Timber Heritage Association (THA) is getting $300,000 from federal grant and revolving loan fund programs to clean-up a lead-contaminated site on Humboldt Bay’s Samoa Peninsula.
The award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was announced in a June 11 teleconference.
The combination of grant funding and a low interest loan will allow the clean-up, enabling the association to purchase the site from the county’s Harbor District.
Known as the Roundhouse, the site is leased to the THA by the district and was once a railroad terminal for a timber company.
Artifacts of the timber industry are now stored there and the THA’s plans to renovate the property into a museum have been challenged by lead paint contamination.
County Supervisor Virginia Bass said absence of funding for a clean-up put the THA’s plans “in limbo.”
With the EPA’s assistance, “Now it’s possible to transfer the property from the Harbor District to the Timber Heritage Association,” said Bass. “Maybe that doesn’t mean a lot to some people but in our community, that’s a pretty big deal because the THA has tremendous support in this community.”
Larry Doss, vice president of the Harbor District’s Board of Commissioners, described the Roundhouse property’s clean-up as “the final piece that allows a purchase to go through.”
The THA’s museum will “bring in jobs and attractions that will teach our local redwood history,” he said.
Andrew Whitney, a Humboldt County housing and grants coordinator, said a $200,000 EPA “sub-grant” through the county will go to the THA as well as a $100,000 low-interest loan whose payments will begin in 10 years.
This isn’t the first time EPA sub-grants have been awarded locally. Whitney said an EPA sub-grant also assisted the Wiyot tribe’s clean-up of Tuluwat Island.
Congressman Jared Huffman began the teleconference by recalling a previous partnership with the EPA, when millions of gallons of toxic chemicals and 10,000 tons of toxic sludge were removed from the Samoa Peninsula’s former pulp mill site.
That massive clean-up was funded with $8.8 million from the EPA’s Superfund Emergency Response program. John Busterud, an EPA regional administrator, praised the county’s Samoa Peninsula revitalization efforts and said, “This community is very fortunate have such a cadre of leaders with a compelling and strategic redevelopment vision.”
The Timber Heritage Association Roundhouse and Shops complex is loaded with treasures and virtually ready-to-go rolling stock. The THA would like to establish a Humboldt Bay excursion train, and is evaluating what needs to be done to get one going. Some March photos from the Roundhouse and Shops: