STANTON — Montcalm County Brownfield Authority members are preparing to meet and review engineering firm documents one week from today after several members failed to properly do so last month.
Montcalm County was awarded a $400,000 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Cooperative Assistance Agreement grant last year to assess local Brownfield sites for hazardous substances and petroleum. Six statements of qualification to administer the assessment were submitted to the county.
Five out of nine Brownfield Authority members voted Jan. 18 to approve a professional services agreement — worth approximately $350,000 — with Soil & Materials Engineers Inc. (SME) in Plymouth to conduct the assessment.
According to recorded audio of the Jan. 18 meeting, Brownfield Authority Chairman George Bosanic and members Ron Baker, Mark Christiansen, Doug Hinken and Lonnie Smith voted to approve the agreement with SME. James Freed cast the lone “no” vote. Members Brian Blomstrom, Mark Borden and S. Michael Scott were absent.
“I just want to reiterate my concerns with the process which has led us here,” said Freed at the meeting, according to the audio recording. “Not even 50 percent of this authority reviewed … the statements of qualification. Yet we only had one no vote and that was mine. There was no rating or tabulation done across from all the members of the authority and yet we’re awarding it when not even half of us have seen it or rated it. I’m not pleased with the process that has essentially brought us here. I think process matters and I don’t think this was done right.”
After a brief silence, Brownfield Authority members then voted 5-1 to approve the agreement with SME.
Freed voiced his concerns again at the Jan. 23 Montcalm County Board of Commissioners meeting. Baker — one of the county commissioners — made a motion to approve the agreement with SME anyway, but the motion failed 5-4.
Commissioners then unanimously voted to send the recommendation back to the Brownfield Authority so all members could review all statements of qualification. The motion was amended to allow the Brownfield Authority to proceed after they reach an agreement instead of bringing the recommendation back to commissioners for a full board vote at the end of February.
“If there’s any concern about a recommendation, we send stuff back to committees,” Board of Commissioners Chairman Patrick Q. Carr told The Daily News. “It happens, but not very often.”
AKT Peerless Environmental & Energy Services of Farmington, ASTI Environmental of Grand Rapids, Environmental Consulting & Technology Inc. in Lansing, Lakeshore Environment Inc. in Grand Haven and Heartland Environmental Associates in South Bend, Ind. also submitted statements of qualification, along with SME.
Bosanic did not return repeated messages seeking comment for this story.
Montcalm Alliance Executive Director Franz Mogdis, who applied for the $400,000 grant and recommended Brownfield Authority members vote for SME, also did not return repeated messages seeking comment for this story.
The Brownfield Authority is scheduled to meet 1 p.m. Feb. 9 to discuss their review of all statements of qualification and vote again.