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“By smartly recycling, we can find ways for having the existing property they’re redeveloping start to pay for itself … and complicated situations don’t have to scare us,” Huffman said.
On Tuesday, a group of county and company officials led a tour through Building 101, one of three immense factories used to manufacture small-arms ammo during World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
The interior was stripped clean of all equipment and the asbestos-laden windows were gone, and moss was stitching together a natural carpet on patches of the concrete floor.
The only hints of the factory’s dramatic past were faded wall signs such as TRACER WING/NO MATCHES/NO LIGHTERS, and a curious one in the former cafeteria area: TILTING OF CHAIRS FORBIDDEN.
So far, about 10 buildings either have come down or are in the process of being removed. They include a fire station, a seven-story power plant and Building 102, one of the large factories.
One structure, Building 502, is loaded with PCBs and asbestos — as well as valuable timbers — and may take until the end of the year to remove.
Some pollution remediation is underway, but most of the hard work of digging out and replacing contaminated soil will be done next year. Ortega said officials are confident they know what they will be dealing with: lead, PCBs, assorted solvents and petroleum. “There are no surprises,” he said.
In a unique joint powers agreement with the county, Arden Hills has hired a consultant to update its master plan to guide land use and develop design guidelines for the site. The study is expected to be done next year.
“We’re a fully developed county and we’ve got to increase our tax base,” Ortega said. “This will create jobs and clean up polluted land. So it’s pretty important to the county.”
He looked out over the fields of weeds and rust. “Once everything is gone, you will see what a beautiful piece of property this is,” he said.
Kevin Duchschere • 651-925-5035