The chief of the
The 10-acre site, next to the the St. Louis Browns' old Sportsman's Park in the Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhood, sat idle for nearly 30 years before cleanup work began in 2013.
The four-story, 480,000-square-foot plant was a hulking fixture dominating the west side of
Suspicion about contamination at the site grew in the late 1980s, and, in 1993, it became a part of the
In 2013, the EPA reached a
Cleanup work at the site was completed this May, said EPA Administrator
"This is a site that languished for years," said Wheeler, who will attend a ceremonial signing and news conference on Wednesday here to celebrate the Superfund site's redevelopment -- a top focus of agency policy in recent years.
Wheeler said 61 Superfund sites have now been delisted during the Trump administration. That includes 27 sites that were "fully or partially" delisted last year, when the Carter Carburetor property was added to the Administrator's Emphasis List for "intense, immediate action," just months before work was scheduled to wrap up.
Scraped clean of its old buildings, the Carter Carburetor site is now poised for the next step in its evolution.
The golf oasis will serve the
Unlike sports such as basketball or football, where the biggest or most athletic kids can excel, Fowler said that golf was an appealing choice, since the game relies more on technique.
"It's not as dependent on your speed and strength and agility," he said.
It will also boost access to the game for individuals in an area where golf exposure can be hard to come by. Fowler, for instance, said that he didn't pick up a golf club until he was in his 30s.
Originally, he said the plan was to develop a few golf holes meant for use with a "limited-flight ball," but the organization is now looking at other facilities around the country for ideas. Proposed uses include a 3- or 4-hole golf course, a driving range, a disc golf area, a putt-putt course, a multi-purpose field, and the
After the blueprint is settled, the organization also needs to complete fundraising efforts. Despite those remaining steps, Fowler said that, ideally, the golf facility will be close to completion by next fall, or if not then, by the spring of 2022.
About three quarters of the site will be occupied by golf facilities, but another portion of the land will be owned by the city of
Wheeler, though, said that the site is "absolutely" safe for use by children. Fowler said that similar assurances have come from a range of other agencies, including the
"We've gotten all types of guarantees," he said, adding that routine checks for pollutants leaching from the site are already conducted. "We feel confident that it will be safe for children and adults, alike."
Meanwhile, the EPA said it will not abandon the site, nor completely remove it from its radar.
"For all Superfund sites, we continue to monitor them," Wheeler said.
Fowler believes that replacing the husk of an old, unsafe factory with well-maintained grass and a safe place for kids to play can send a positive message of investing in the community's young people and their development.
"It helps young people to envision a more positive future for themselves," said Fowler.
He also hopes that the work on the site can be a catalyst for greater change in the area, suggesting that the presence of the shuttered plant had long helped deter investment along the North Grand corridor.
"As a result of that being gone," Fowler said, "I think we can encourage more developments in the surrounding neighborhoods."
Wheeler will also meet Wednesday with activists regarding the West Lake Landfill Superfund site in
Wheeler said public and private entities responsible for costs there should approve a work plan later this month, and that "field work will begin soon after."
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