U of M prepares for environmental assessment of UMore Park property
MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (08/17/2010) —The University of Minnesota today issued a request for proposals to assess environmental conditions on its 5,000-acre UMore Park property in Dakota County. During World War II, the property, owned by the federal government, was a gunpowder production facility.
The assessment includes approximately 3,500 acres that comprised the former Gopher Ordnance Works (GOW) property to determine the type and extent of contamination present. The competitive public process to identify the contractor that will conduct the technical assessment will tentatively conclude in October 2010, with work commencing immediately following the selection of the contractor.
Prior to the University’s acquisition of the property, the parcel was part of a 12,000-acre gunpowder manufacturing facility. The United States government acquired the property in 1942. Construction was never fully completed on one of the two smokeless powder manufacturing lines that were originally planned. However, one of the production lines was in operation for nine months, from January through October 1945. The University acquired the property in two parcels in 1947 and 1948.
The University’s plan for the UMore Park property is to develop a sustainable community of 20,000 to 30,000 people over the next 30 years. The University’s Board of Regents approved the concept master plan for the property in December 2008. The property lies in both the City of Rosemount and Empire Township.
Vice President for University Services Kathleen O’Brien said, “Given the future plans for UMore Park, we need to make sure we understand the full impact of past activities there, before the University owned it. As a good steward of its property and a good neighbor in the region, the University will determine the level of contamination at the site, and after reviewing the outcome, will evaluate next steps toward remediating the site.”
The so-called Phase II Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) will include the collection of samples of soil, groundwater and building materials to be analyzed for various potential contaminants. The assessment will comply with all Minnesota Pollution Control Agency requirements.
City of Rosemount Mayor William Droste said, “This is a positive step for everyone in our city, county and region. We appreciate that the University is keeping us up to date and we’ll work with them to keep our residents informed of the process and eventual findings.” Dakota County Board Chair Tom Egan added, "Dakota County has supported the University's efforts to address aspects of the former Gopher Ordnance Works status over time. We are especially pleased that they are moving forward now to assess any environmental concerns."
The assessment is likely to be completed in late 2011. After that the university will work with the Army Corps of Engineers and others on any necessary cleanup.