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EPA making progress as they prepare to leave Libby - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

EPA making progress as they prepare to leave Libby

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LIBBY - Libby business owners, developers, and other stakeholders say they are pleased with the progress of the Libby Asbestos Superfund cleanup and are now talking about how they move forward.

The former Stimson mill site is part of the larger Libby Asbestos Superfund and the cleanup at this site is now complete. The EPA and Lincoln County Port Authority held a roundtable meeting to discuss the long-term vision and future steps for the reuse of 400 plus acres at the site of the former Stimson mill.

The latest meeting was a follow up to a session held in April where the Port Authority decided it would want advise from regional economic redevelopment experts who have seen success in reusing sites similar to this one.

One of those experts, Steve Nelson, explained some of the things needed to be successful in a project like this one.

“The community has got to be a part of the deal. You got to have a pretty good bank, and you got to have just a buy-in [from] all the economic development folks that are in that area and then you just got to take some risks and just go do it," Nelson said.

Lincoln County Port Authority Director Tina Oliphant says that one of the most important parts of collaborative talks like these are getting everyone on the same page.

“One of the biggest things that came out of this was the incredible importance of working together in this community, our different entities, our different public agencies and entities to leverage all our resources, assents, strengths to move forward on this," Oliphant explained.

The roundtable talks came at the perfect time as the community of Libby needed a little pick-me-up.

Just a few days ago, a devastating fire took SK finger joint lumber mill and on Thursday the Port Authority announced that this 100,000-square foot building was now cleared and available for another company to rent it and use it. 

Oliphant added that the clearance of the new building creates even more of an attraction to the business park, "with access to BNSF mainline...that runs from Seattle to Chicago. It is a huge opportunity for this area to support and attract business development.”

Local business owners like Cabinet Mountain Brewery’s Kristan Smith notice all that Libby is doing to escape the shadow of asbestos and believes the town is headed in the right direction. 

“There’s just a positive outlook, a more positive outlook then there had been when I moved here almost 9 years ago. So, there’s increased optimism, we’ve had more businesses downtown than we had 6 or 7 years ago, so there’s definitely momentum in the right direction for Libby," Smith said.

The entire Libby Superfund cleanup is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2018.

RELATED: Additional asbestos cleanup money awarded to Libby

RELATED: EPA: Final asbestos inspections needed to prevent future property costs

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