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Environmental awards recognize employee contributions

The fourth annual City of Kansas City, Mo., Environmental Achievement Awards ceremony on Monday recognized six groups of City employees for acts or achievements that significantly benefit the environment.

The City’s Environmental Management Commission sponsors the awards, which they present with the Mayor’s Office.

The following are the acts or achievements for which employees were recognized:
Sprint Arena/KC Live site remediation: Andy Bracker and Bob Langenkamp – City Planning and Development Department; and Ralph Davis, David Peck and Cameron Blazer – Capital Improvements Management Office

With laboratory analysis and close coordination with state and local officials, more than 112,000 cubic yards of fill meeting Missouri cleanup standards was diverted from expensive landfill disposal and made available to meet fill needs at KC Live and a riverfront development site, resulting in a savings to the City of more than $3 million.

One innovative feature of this project was the use of a multi-metal XRF device, capable of directly measuring the levels of lead and seven other toxic metals in soil, along with a PID device capable of directly measuring hydrocarbon contamination, allowing technicians in the field to constantly monitor the characteristics of soil being excavated.

The City has completed site remediation work on eight City blocks downtown. Buildings containing asbestos have been abated and demolished; abandoned underground storage tanks have been removed; and land impacted by petroleum contamination was restored to a safe condition. Work on three additional blocks is nearing completion.

The completed remediation includes the four-block site where the 18,500-seat Sprint Center will be built and four blocks of the KC Live site, which will house the new H&R Block world headquarters and a major mixed-use development.

Prior to remediation, this area had been in commercial and industrial use by a wide range of companies for approximately 150 years. During the course of the work, asbestos was assessed and abated in 13 buildings and 85 wells; boreholes and test pits were installed to determine the condition of the soil and groundwater; 274 samples were analyzed by certified laboratories for a wide range of possible contaminants; 26 underground storage tanks and cisterns were encountered and removed; and 2,500 feet of asbestos jacketed underground steam lines were abated and removed. In addition, 27,580 tons of petroleum impacted soil, 10,726 gallons of petroleum product, and 4,000 gallons of petroleum impacted water were transported for proper management off-site.

Risk assessments using methodology established by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources verify that environmentally, the site is now suitable for any use.

KC Recycles: Michael Shaw, Tonya Davis and Dee Ann Gregory – Public Works Department; Greg Brady and Michelle Carey – Information Technology Department; Scott Cahail – Water Services Department; and Sheryl Kaullen – City Manager’s Office

This group spearheaded the implementation of KC Recycles, the citywide curbside recycling program. The program saves the City approximately $300,000 per year in avoided landfill tipping fees. In addition, the collected materials have a value estimated at $450,000 per year.

The curbside recycling program annually diverts more than 15,000 tons of material from area landfills and directs those resources back into the local economy. Currently, 53 percent of Kansas City households are participating in the curbside recycling program and participation rates continue to rise.

Nature First program: Marci Jones and Michael Herron – Parks and Recreation Department

The Parks and Recreation Department launched its Nature First program in fiscal year 2005-2006, with the introduction of native plantings at three sites. Once established, native plantings reduce the City’s maintenance expenses by approximately $1,000 per acre per year compared with turf grass. The program’s goal is to reduce City expenses for watering, mowing and chemicals, while increasing ecosystem productivity and diversity. In its first year, Nature First brought native plants to approximately 10 acres of land, including 4.5 acres at Lakeside Nature Center, 4 acres at Santa Fe Park and 1 acre along the Indian Creek Trail. The program is slated for expansion.

Turf grass typically requires about 12 mowings per year, and depending on aesthetic requirements, may receive two fertilizer/herbicide applications each year and periodic watering. As a monoculture, turf grass provides nearly no ecological diversity and does not support birds, butterflies or other wildlife.

By contrast, an established wildflower meadow requires one mowing or burning every two years, no chemical application and no watering. It includes a diverse array of grasses and flowers, and supports a wide range of birds, butterflies and other wildlife.

ISO-14000 implementation: Michael Shaw and Francis Fleming – Public Works Department; and Bill Lewry and Lara Isch – Water Services Department

The Solid Waste Division of the Public Works Department and the Household Hazardous Waste Program have implemented environmental management systems which conform to the ISO-14000 standard. Conformance to the standard was verified by an independent audit performed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s contractor.
One example of a tangible benefit from the ISO-14000 process was the decision to replace some of the Solid Waste Division’s aging collection equipment. This resulted in reduced fuel usage, reduced air emissions, improved operational efficiency and lower overall costs.

The ISO-14000 system requires an organization to systematically identify and address all of the ways in which its activities impact the environment. Using a prioritization system, organizational resources are focused on the most pressing environmental concerns and the most promising environmental opportunities.

KCI terminal recycling: David Bowen and Robert Johnson – Aviation Department

These employees started a recycling program for paper, aluminum and plastic in the terminal buildings at Kansas City International Airport. Materials that would otherwise take up space in the landfill are captured and used to make new products. Because KCI is Kansas City’s “front door” for many visitors, this program has a symbolic significance in shaping the first impression many people have of Kansas City, and establishing an expectation for how people should behave while in Kansas City.

Neighborhood Cleanup Assistance Program: Constance Tate – Public Works Department

The Neighborhood Cleanup Assistance Program is a partnership between the City and its residents that keeps neighborhoods clean and healthy by combining City equipment with volunteers mobilized by neighborhood associations to accomplish more than either could accomplish alone.

From March to May in 2005, nearly 6,000 volunteers cleaned more than 388 illegal dumpsites, 139 miles of streets, 66 acres of parks and 21 miles of rivers in events coordinated by the Neighborhood Cleanup Assistance Program.
The personal dedication and passion of Tate has been the key to the success of this partnership as she exceeds expectations by meeting with community leaders and residents helping them plan community cleanups. It is anticipated that these efforts will lead to long-term behavior changes to prevent litter and illegal dumping, resulting in more efficient use of City resources.

Tate developed a new, more cost-effective approach to community cleanups by encouraging neighborhoods to hold multi-neighborhood cleanups. The first of these, involving 10 neighborhoods from 39th to Gregory Boulevard, and The Paseo to Interstate 435, resulted in the removal of 350 tons of illegally dumped trash in just one day. Other multi-neighborhood cleanup events have followed and yielded similar results.

Media inquiries about the Environmental Achievement Awards should be directed to Larry Falkin, Office of Environmental Quality (City Manager’s Office), (816) 513-3456.

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