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Craig grant would turn ‘brown fields into green fields’

Craig Field Airport and Industrial Authority (CFAIA) Executive Director Jim Corrigan is setting his sights on an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields grant, which he believes will make great strides for the local airport in attracting new businesses to the area.

“It’s a long process,” Corrigan said of applying for the grant. “But, it’s essentially going to turn brown fields into green fields.”

According to Corrigan, the flightline at Craig is dotted with dilapidated buildings, some built in the 1940s, that are beyond their usefulness – the Brownfield grant would provide for up to seven of those buildings to be torn down and the earth beneath them rehabilitated for future use.

“The cost to rehab a building is nearly as much as building a new one,” Corrigan said. “If I had a lot of businesses out here, I’d have some income to tear those buildings down myself. If we get awarded that grant, it will give me the capability to make room for more business. My job is to bring more businesses and more jobs to the area, so that’s what we’re trying to do.”

According to Corrigan, the area being eyed for rehabilitation covers roughly 10 acres, coming to a total of nearly 13 acres when combined with the empty space surrounding the crumbling buildings.

Corrigan said the EPA grant would not only demolish the outdated buildings, many of which have leaky roofs or compromised electrical systems, but would ensure that hazardous materials, such as asbestos and lead, were disposed of properly.

Additionally, the grant would cover the expense of adding new soil to the ground once the buildings and foundations are removed, as well as the seeding of new grass for the area.

Corrigan noted that the taxiway ramp has recently been refurbished, but it’s difficult to see the progress around the buildings that have become an eyesore.

“We’ve got a logical plan to make this more appealing to businesses,” Corrigan said. “But it’s hard to show that off, to showcase Crig, wen you see these old buildings that haven’t been painted in 40 years, that the roofs leak…so that’s the purpose, to get ride of those buildings.”

Corrigan said the application for the grant, which followed weeks of leg work on his part and especially that of Craig’s full-time grant writer, went out this week and he hopes to hear something in two months or less.

“If everything goes right, a year from now we should have grass in those areas and a plan for it a company comes in,” Corrigan said. “It’s a slow process, but that’s why we suited up – we suited up so we can compete.”