- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 13, 2015

VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) - The city of Vicksburg is going to the state to seek a $600,000 low interest loan from the Mississippi Development Authority to help it raze and clean up the site where Kuhn Memorial State Hospital once operated.

The Vicksburg Post reports (https://bit.ly/1PbyBpO) the Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Monday authorized City Attorney Nancy Thomas to begin the process to apply for a brownfields CAP loan, which allows the city to borrow money at an interest rate of between 2 to 3 percent.

The state program allows cities and counties to borrow money to improve public facilities and infrastructure to assist with business locations and expansions with community-based projects.

Brownfields funds involve money from the Environmental Protection Agency to allow local, county and state governments to assess, clean up, and reuse brownfields - property affected by hazardous materials.

Thomas said the recommendation to seek the loan came after a meeting with representatives from MDA and Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and Gov. Phil Bryant’s office to discuss possible funding sources to take Kuhn down.

“There is brownfield remediation money available through a CAP loan,” Thomas said. “(But) right now, the limit is $250,000. We are going to request that cap be waived. We anticipate the cost would be about $550,000 to $600,000 to abate the asbestos and any other hazardous substance on the property and demolish the building and dispose of the debris in a certified landfill.”

If the cap is waived, she said, the city will sign a brownfields agreement with DEQ and a consultant to test for asbestos and develop a plan to remediate the site. The city would also get an appraisal on the property.

Thomas said the city in the past has unsuccessfully applied for grants to clean the Kuhn property, adding the next round to apply for brownfields grants is November, and the city must own the property before it applies for the grant.

“If we were awarded the grant, we wouldn’t get it until June, so we felt making the cap loan would be the best alternative and hopefully we can clean that property up,” she said.

Community Development Director Victor Grey-Lewis said the city also is applying through the State of Mississippi for a $7.3 million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development National Disaster Resilience grant that would provide the funds to raze and clear the Kuhn property and transform it into a housing development of 35 to 40 single-family homes. Grants will be awarded in mid-January.

The money is part of HUD’s $1 billion National Disaster Resilience Competition to help communities hit by natural disasters between 2011 and 2013 become more viable. Vicksburg qualifies because of the 2011 spring Mississippi River Flood, which flooded areas of the city as the river reached a record level of 57.1 feet, .9 feet more than the 1927 flood.

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Information from: The Vicksburg Post, https://www.vicksburgpost.com

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