While most of the Kansas City metro continues to stay home per local and state orders, a team of field services, investigation/remediation, and assessment personnel from Environmental Works, Inc.’s KC offices recently completed essential environmental excavation work for a truly important cause – the development of the Mattie Rhodes Cultural Center.
The center, developed by KC-based nonprofit Mattie Rhodes, will provide a “creative and safe outlet” for area children during out-of-school hours, and will include educational, event and gathering, and gallery and art exhibit spaces, according to the nonprofit’s website. Mattie Rhodes promises early learning opportunities, art therapy, behavioral health services, workforce development opportunities, workshops by visiting artists, and professional development opportunities for local artists.
“The Mattie Rhodes Art Center is not just an after-school program. It’s a safe haven. A place to learn. A place to socialize and be yourself,” says the nonprofit’s website.
Mattie Rhodes is the only fully bilingual/bicultural, nationally accredited, and state-certified behavioral health care provider in the Greater Kansas City region; and is state-certified in intensive outpatient substance abuse therapy, according to its website.
The new center, currently under construction, will sit on a lot at the corner of Jarboe and W. 17th streets across from Jarboe Park and Primitivo Garcia Elementary and a block west of the nonprofit’s Mattie Rhodes Art Center & Art Gallery.
Environmental due diligence funded by the Kansas City Brownfields Program “found elevated levels of lead and minor amounts of arsenic” in the soil, according to Michael Dustman, Kansas City Brownfields Program’s Qualified Environmental Professional, who is overseeing the project. The source of high lead concentrations in the soil was not known but is thought to be attributed to illegal dumping within open building foundations historically present on the 150-year-old site.
Mattie Rhodes Center subsequently applied and was approved for an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cleanup loan under the city’s Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) to address the removal of contamination. EWI was chosen as the selected contractor through a bid process and hired by Mattie Rhodes Center to implement the remedial action plan (RAP) approved by the EPA and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MoDNR). The RAP was used to document the necessary steps to properly remove and dispose of contaminants from the property to below concentrations acceptable for residential land use and to achieve a letter of completion (i.e. NFA) from MoDNR.
In March 2020, EWI began the implementation of the RAP including soil removal and disposal using Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) trained operators and workers. The original plan called for the removal of approximately 400 cubic yards of “soil containing elevated lead in it.”
But, Dustman and EWI continued to find elevated levels of lead in unsuitable fill material required for removal and a change order was submitted to Mattie Rhode Center’s Board of Directors and approved in mid-March.
Around the same time, the City of Kansas City, Missouri, issued a stay-at-home order regarding COVID-19. EWI immediately confirmed the project position as an essential activity with the city and implemented safe work practices including the sanitation of vehicles, social distancing and redrafting of the project’s Health and Safety Plan (HASP).
By the middle of April, more than 3,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil were safely and properly removed and disposed of from the lot.
“Although changes in the general project scope occurred requiring new strategic planning and safety considerations, EWI staff safely and quickly moved forward to keep the remedial project going to support the goals of the center,” Nick Godfrey, EWI director for the project, said.
Sampling results and documentation required by MoDNR to confirm cleanup objectives are met are currently underway. Upon review and approval by MoDNR, a certificate of completion documenting EWI’s successful remediation of the site is anticipated in 2020. Construction of the Mattie Rhodes Cultural Center is set to begin in late spring 2020.