Trends Winter 2019 - Page 2

FROM VACANT TO VIABLE Redevelopment project converts blighted, contaminated property into vibrant public library By Jennifer Schmidt “T he public library is where place and possibility meet.” Author Stuart Dybek’s eloquent quote is prominently imprinted on a feature wall of the Waunakee Public Library in southern Wisconsin and poignantly emblematizes the striking transformation that’s taken place on the property where the new 40,000-square-foot facility stands. It wasn’t long ago that, what’s now a stunning, state-of-the- art facility being lauded for its modern design and purposeful integration with the surrounding park-like environment, was a defunct foundry full of toxic contaminants and decorated with piles of debris, overgrown vegetation, broken windows, and offensive graffiti. The Waunakee Alloy Castings Corporation was established in 1953 and ceased operations in 2009 – its buildings sitting idle ever since. “Imagine a conglomeration of tin sheds – some big, some little – but in their entirety 29 different tin sheds that, together, made up the operations for the foundry,” described Todd Schmidt, the Village of Waunakee’s administrator and economic development director. “Now imagine all of those surrounded by cracked concrete with weeds growing above your head, and then imagine those tin sheds with open areas for critters, areas of roof that were rotted and gone, and some of those buildings Top: Open and exposed entrance into former foundry. Released PCB fluids and spilled mercury were discovered just inside open garage door. Bottom: Exposed and discarded electrical capacitors releasing PCB-containing oils onto floor. 2 | TRENDS Ingenuity, Integrity, and Intelligence.