Visual Aesthetics Issue Emerges as Milltown Remediation Winds Down

April 23, 2009

In their comments to the EPA on just how Envirocon should wrap up the remediation effort at the Milltown Superfund site, CFRTAC and Missoula County urged project planners to consider the visual aesthetics of engineered structures to be left in place after the cleanup.

CFRTAC and Missoula County are public representatives on the Milltown Design Review team. The Stage 3B draft final design report details how Envirocon will regrade the flood plain, close the repositories and backfill the bypass channel. Concerns emerged that a heavily fortified (e.g. rip-rapped) structures might dominate the landscape. Peter Nielsen, on behalf of Missoula County, notes that a sediment repository, the right bank debris repository, the tunnel pond repository, Interstate 90 buttress, embankments for the I-90, MRL and Highway 200 bridges, I-90 bridge piers and highway 200 piers will all remain once the project is complete.  “Cumulatively, these structures will leave a visual impact on the site that will be unmistakable,” he writes, adding that “ultimately the engineered and armored nature of the project area will become a dominating influence, potentially impairing the future desirability of the site.”

The Milltown site has been proposed as a state park once the cleanup and restoration work is complete. The Milltown Superfund Redevelopment Working Group and the Montana Dept. of Fish, Wildlife and Parks recently submitted a $6 million proposal to the Natural Resource Damage Program to fund the initial development of park facilities. CFRTAC, in its comments, highlights this fact. “While we recognize that aesthetics are not part of the performance standards, we believe that they will be one of the standards that the public ultimately uses to judge success at the Milltown site.”

Read Missoula County’s comments and CFRTAC’s letter as well.

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