One common message across many of the Brownfields workshops and webinars I’ve attended has been to be creative and leverage multiple programs. It’s no secret that funding sources continue to dwindle and thus become more competitive, year after year. So how are so many communities able to continue to produce shining examples of success? I think the answer lies in combining resources and sometimes being a little creative.
In June, Camisha Scott Marshall, Brownfields Project Manager for EPA Region 6, shared one of her favorite projects exemplifying how to get creative using Brownfield funds for a successful project. She shared that Arkansas declared a World War 2 Tug Boat, the USS Hoga, as “real property”, thus making it eligible for Brownfield Cleanup funds related to hazardous materials, asbestos and lead-based paint. Thinking this was clearly not an every-day scenario, I was interested to find out more.
A quick internet search (http://aimmuseum.org/uss-hoga/) revealed the USS Hoga (YT-146) was built by Consolidated Shipbuilding Corporation of New York and was designated as a Woban Class District Harbor Tug, which launched on December 31, 1940. Her claim to fame included actions immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Within 10 minutes of the attack, USS Hoga rescued sailors in the water, helped fight fires, and pulled ships out of harm’s way. Her most notable action included 72 continuous hours of firefighting and pushing the sinking USS Nevada to prevent blockage of the narrow channel. The actions of the crew those days resulted in commendation. USS Hoga’s service didn’t end there.She went on to serve as a fire boat for many years, and even served as a tour boat for President Carter. In 1989, she received National Landmark Status.
After acceptance and transference to the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum in North Little Rock, Arkansas, some clean-up was required to fully incorporate her as an active part of the museum. Some struggles ensued with USS Hoga meeting the definition of “real property”, since she did not have a traditional address and although difficult, was movable. Working with various agencies, including State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPO), to confirm USS Hoga’s status as Real Property was a crucial step in attaining the funds for the clean-up, and where creative thinking and teamwork were able to contribute to the success. In my search for more information, I found a video and transcript from a conference in 2018, where this shining star example among others connected Brownfields funding with Preservation resources. In case you are interested to see more about what they did, here is the link: https://www.ncptt.nps.gov/blog/brownfields-funding-in-preservation-2/