Author: Eva Andersenm - WOI 5

DES MOINES, Iowa — It's been an eyesore in Des Moines for nearly four decades, and now the former Dico site is one step closer to being safely redeveloped.

Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held the first public event at the site since a February court settlement determined the City would now be able to take over the 43 acres of land from its previous owner, Titan Tire.

The site, a hub of toxic chemicals and pollutants, has been on EPA's Superfund National Priorities List of hazardous areas needing response since 1983. Mayor Frank Cownie said the City had to go through a lot of "red tape" to finally acquire the land and safely demolish it.

To mark the occasion, EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan made his first visit to Iowa since being confirmed by the Senate in March.

"The city has been suffering with this blight for decades, and at EPA, we know that it's not just about the clean-up," said Regan. "It's about what to come after."

Potential plans include Iowa's first professional soccer stadium and a brand new redevelopment complex, a project totaling $535 million, according to a USL Pro Iowa February release.

Before any of the new developments can get underway, the EPA and the City of Des Moines will get to work demolishing several buildings on site.

The EPA will demolish the area's most toxic parts, which will cost around $3 million, according to an EPA District 7 spokesperson. The costs will be paid for by Titan Tire, the previous owner and 'Potentially Responsible Party' (PRP).

The City of Des Moines will demolish two buildings that are deemed less toxic. A spokesperson for the City of Des Moines says while costs aren't finalized, an early bid estimates around $500,000, to be paid for by TIF bonds.

Cownie said the progress is long overdue.

"A massive and long-awaited clean-up will get underway," said Mayor Cownie. 

"[It will open] the door to unique ideas and new development opportunities, creating a vibrant vista on these 43 acres of potential." 

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