EPA awards Nearly $1 Million for Cleanup and Revitalization of McGinnis Gym Property in Buena Vista

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced Watershed NP, Inc., will receive a $979,222 Brownfields Cleanup Grant, funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, to clean up the 5,450-square-foot former McGinnis Gymnasium at 113 North Court Street in the City of Buena Vista, Colorado.

EPA’s award for the Buena Vista project is among six Brownfields grants totaling nearly $4.78 million announced today for cleanup and revitalization projects in communities across Colorado. 

“Watershed NP has worked with local partners to develop a vision for restoring McGinnis Gymnasium as a prime recreational, educational and performing arts space,” said EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker. “EPA is proud to support this cleanup and a safe, vibrant space for residents and visitors to gather as a community.” 

“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is helping clean up and revitalize communities across Colorado,” said U.S. Senator Michael Bennet. “With this funding, Buena Vista, Pueblo, Telluride, Silverton, San Luis and Trinidad can make sure these sites are safe for the families living near them and restore them in ways that meet the communities’ needs.” 

“I am deeply committed to improving the economic and environmental well-being of Colorado’s 7th district,” said Representative Brittany Pettersen. “I’m glad to see federal funds coming to cleanup efforts, which will help our communities thrive. The McGinnis Gymnasium holds a rich historical significance in Buena Vista, and this award ensures it will continue to serve the next generation in Chaffee County.” 

These funds are part of President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda to expedite the assessment and cleanup of brownfield sites in while advancing environmental justice through the Multipurpose, Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup (MARC) Grant programs. Thanks to the historic boost from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this grant program is the largest ever awarded by EPA’s Brownfields MARC Grant programs. 

“The McGinnis Gym project could not have gotten this far without EPA and partners KSU and Tetra Tech,” said Katy Welter, President of Watershed NP, Inc. “The training, technical assistance, warm introductions and now funding have allowed us to return a blighted building on Buena Vista’s elementary school campus to its historic use as a school and community gym, theater and assembly space. It’s fitting to bring back the McGinnis Gym in this time, and with the federal government’s help as the gym was built as a federal Public Works Administration project in 1936. Our little mountain town thanks you!” 

The McGinnis Gym has been vacant since 2008 due to the identification of hazardous materials, including asbestos, lead-based paint, mercury and mold.  EPA’s cleanup grant will enable the gym to be restored to its original use as a recreational, educational and performing arts space serving the community. 

Other Brownfields grants announced in Colorado today include: 

  • The Town of San Luis, $500,000 
  • The Town of Silverton, $800,000 
  • Mt. Carmel Wellness and Community Center: Trinidad, $998,700  
  • San Miguel County, $500,000 
  • The Keating School, Pueblo: $1 million 


Thanks to the historic $1.5 billion boost from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, EPA’s Brownfields Program is helping more communities than ever begin to address the economic, social and environmental challenges caused by brownfields and stimulate economic opportunity and environmental revitalization in historically overburdened communities.  

EPA’s Brownfields Program also advances President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative to direct 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities. Approximately 84% of the MARC program applications selected to receive funding proposed to work in areas that include historically underserved communities. 

EPA’s Brownfields Program began in 1995 and has provided nearly $2.37 billion in Brownfield Grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return blighted properties to productive reuse. EPA’s investments in addressing brownfield sites have leveraged more than $36 billion in cleanup and redevelopment. Communities that previously received Brownfields Grants used these resources to fund assessments and cleanups of brownfields, and successfully leverage an average of 10.6 jobs per $100,000 of grant funds spent and $19.78 for every dollar. 

Dan R