PRESS RELEASE | Coconino County Awarded EPA Grant Funding for Clean Up of Former County Jail



FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — This year, Coconino County’s Facilities Management Department has applied for and been awarded a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the amount of $573,615 to fund the clean-up of hazardous materials within the former County Jail in downtown Flagstaff. The County has owned and operated this property, located adjacent to the historic County Courthouse, on W.C. Riles Street between Birch and Cherry Avenues as the County Jail from 1892 until 2000.

With the opening of the Law Enforcement Administration Facility and current Coconino County Jail in 2000, the historic site has now been vacant for over 20 years and is deteriorating. The county maintains the site to prevent release of contaminants.

The EPA grant, a Multipurpose, Assessment, RLF, and Cleanup (MARC), will allow the County to remediate or remove all hazardous materials within the structure. Included in the grant funds are $100,000 reserved for re-use planning. There is also no requirement for the County to match any grant funds, however there is a three-year period in which to complete the work.

“We have, as a County, been extremely successful in acquiring these very competitive federal grants,” commented Patrice Horstman, Chair of the Board of Supervisors. “We have a great team, several divisions of the County organization collaborated on securing these funds, and when we work together we succeed on behalf of our County. These funds play an important role in the clean-up for the County’s former jail site in Flagstaff’s downtown.”

The original courthouse and jail were constructed out of local sandstone sourced from a quarry in Flagstaff. A second story was added to the original jail structure in 1925 as well as an expansion of the courthouse. Subsequent wrap-around additions to the historic jail were constructed in 1963, and 1976, quadrupling the square footage of the original jail.

Regardless of the County’s re-use strategy the site must be cleaned up. An EPA Targeted Brownfields assessment in 2022 identified asbestos-containing materials, lead-based paint, lead contaminated materials, and mold throughout the building. This funding will be beneficial in helping the County in achieving our goals for site reuse, and funds for this necessary clean-up will not be diverted from other critical services.

“This will be a great opportunity to initiate the reuse of a historic site that has remained mostly vacant and unused since the early 2000’s,” said Coconino County Facilities Management Director, Tom Hanecak. “We anticipate that our comprehensive and innovative approach to the redevelopment of the property will provide additional space for essential County services while enhancing the vitality of downtown Flagstaff and has the potential to bring in additional monies into the Flagstaff area through businesses, nonprofits, and tourism.”

This EPA grant will assist the County in clearing the hurdles for site reuse. Removing and mitigating contaminants will ensure that those contaminants are not released into the community during demolition and will open the doors to any re-use opportunity that the County and community have envisioned. A revitalized site will contribute positively to the community by bringing vitality to a currently vacant site, creating an aesthetic and culturally relevant reuse, and expanding court and social services into a new facility adjacent to other County properties downtown Flagstaff.

 

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