Watertown awarded DNR grant

The former Marathon gas station, 905 E. Main St, where a new park could be added by the city following environmental assessments funded by a recently awarded DNR grant.

The former Marathon gas station on Main Street is one step closer to becoming a city park.

The state’s Department of Natural Resources announced Monday it awarded Watertown a grant for its brownfields project for the gas station location. The grant, which comes from the DNR’s Wisconsin Assessment Monies (WAM) program, provides contractor services up to $35,000.

The grant will be used for the Phase 1 and Phase 2 environmental assessments for the property, according to Mayor Emily McFarland.

“Once we have those assessments back, we will move forward with approval to purchase the gas station,” McFarland said.

McFarland said the the property works into the City’s Parks and Open Space plan as the space could potentially become a green space.

“Potentially the plan is for the building to come down,” McFarland said, “The plan would be to demolish the building and make the corner on Main Street not so sharp and then potentially have green park or sitting space where College Avenue currently intersects Main Street.”

McFarland said the College Avenue realignment plan is with the 2020 budget, which will be discussed during the common council meeting tomorrow.

Beginning in early spring 2019, city staff and Vandewalle & Associates, a Madison group with expertise in redevelopment and real estate, have been working on an update of the city’s parks and open space plan, according to a city parks and open space plan summary. The process has included three park, recreation, and forestry commission meetings, three focus group meetings and a public open house at Riverfest, according to the summary.

The DNR awarded brownfields grants totaling $174,000 to three south central Wisconsin communities: Watertown, Stoughton and Janesville, according to a DNR press release. The exact amount of money for Watertown’s grant is not known at this time and calls to the DNR were not returned by press time. These grants are part of $336,000 of brownfields grants awarded to nine communities in the state, according to the release. The DNR also announced awards to Allouez, Appleton, Eleva, Marinette, Prairie du Chien and Winneconne.

“The DNR is proud to partner with these communities as local leaders seek to improve those buildings and properties that have seen better days,” said DNR Remediation and Redevelopment Program Director Christine Haag. “These small awards can sometimes provide the nudge needed to move forward a pending deal or planned improvements; we are honored to be a part of a local success.”

Administered by the DNR’s Remediation and Redevelopment program, WAM awards provide communities with professional environmental site assessments of properties with known or perceived contamination. The program is funded through a U.S. EPA brownfields assessment grant, according to the DNR.

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