You’ve probably driven by it hundreds of times: It’s a large, undeveloped brownfield in downtown Olympia that has been surrounded by a fence for so long that it might have seemed like nothing would ever happen there.
But that’s about to change.
After a decade of work between the Port of Olympia and the state Department of Ecology, a port-hired contractor is set to begin the final environmental cleanup of those six parcels of land, otherwise known as the port’s East Bay property.
The most visible parcels are along State Avenue.
The contractor, IO Environmental and Infrastructure, set up equipment this week. The contractor will begin on the State Avenue parcels before moving on to other sites, including the remaining East Bay parcels north of the Hands On Children’s Museum.
It has taken 10 years to get to this point because time was spent identifying what legacy contaminants were in the soil, as well as the location of those contaminants, said Rachael Jamison, the port’s environmental programs director.
And it wasn’t entirely dormant for 10 years, she said.
Some property was cleaned up to make way for the Hands On Children’s Museum as well as the LOTT Clean Water Alliance headquarters.
“We’ve had some interim actions on the site,” Jamison said.
The cost to clean up the six remaining parcels is about $650,000. Work is expected to be complete toward the end of October. The contractor is expected to work daytime hours, either 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. or 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and have as many as 10-12 employees on site, said Tyson Carpenter, a project manager in the port’s engineering department.
What’s in the soil? Legacy contaminants left behind during a more industrial era.
From the late 1880s until 1968, the site was used for timber-related industries, according to the Department of Ecology website. Previous users included a sawmill, planing mill, shingle mill, and plywood manufacturers, the website reads.
Some areas need more cleanup than others, Jamison said.
Three larger sites have been identified where soil will have to be removed. Other areas will receive a one-foot layer of gravel, she said.
Once the property is cleaned up, the port can entertain potential development on those parcels. One developer, Walker John, already has a plan in mind.
He wants to bring a mixed-use development to a portion of the State Avenue parcels called Westman Mill, which would include apartments and townhomes.