The next step in an effort to reopen an old gym in Clancy -- remediating asbestos and other contaminants -- is anticipated to be completed over the winter, according to an Oct. 25 email from Jefferson Local Development Corporation co-manager Tom Harrington.

Harrington met Oct. 23 with other stakeholders -- representatives from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and engineering firm Tetra Tech, Clancy School Superintendent Dave Selvig and the school’s maintenance manager, and parent Dani Morris -- to discuss the next steps in the parent-led initiative spearheaded by Morris. It was the first sign of movement on the project since July, when testing found the presence of asbestos, lead-based paint, polychlorinated biphenyls — commonly known as PCBs — in electrical transformers, mercury in electrical components, and Freon in appliances.

The results of the test, dated July 2 and conducted by Tetra Tech for the DEQ, were “not as bad” as they could have been, Harrington said at the time.

Tetra Tech will perform the abatement work, estimated in July to cost $40,897. Funding for that will come from the same source that paid for the testing: grants from the brownfields program administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and facilitated by the DEQ.

The EPA defines brownfields “as real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant.”

The JLDC has been helping a group of parents who envision reopening the gym to house various community events as well as athletic activities. The facility was closed about a decade ago and has since been used by the school district for storage.

“It’s sad to see it sit here empty and not being used,” Morris told The Monitor in May. She said using the former gym for storage falls short of its potential. It could house polling stations during elections, host events to save wear and tear on the newer gym at Clancy School, and give people a larger place to gather than the meeting room in the Clancy Old Red Schoolhouse, in addition to providing space for sports practice, she said.

The parents first approached the Clancy School board in October 2019 to show interest in reviving the former gym. They again appeared before the board in March for permission to arrange testing to assess whether hazardous materials were present in the building.

In his Oct. 25 email, Harrington said that “completing the remediation would help facilitate putting the property back in use.” He said the stakeholders discussed plans at the Oct. 23 meeting “to retain the basketball court, get the utilities back operational and maybe look at putting the stage back in place.”

The group also discussed disposing of the furniture being stored in the facility, which will have to be removed during remediation, Harrington wrote.

“A property disposal plan is being formulated by the school,” he noted.

People can follow the parents’ Facebook group for updates.

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