Maintenance Facility/Brownfields Cleanup

Estimated Completion - 2028

In order to maintain the mile long Bee Branch Creek Greenway and ensure it functions as designed, a maintenance facility is planned at 16th and Elm streets where the former Blum Co. served as a scrap yard and recycling facility for over 50 years. 

The site is currently contaminated with hazardous substances which make it unsuitable for redevelopment without remediation. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded the City of Dubuque grants through its Brownfields program to cleanup the former scrap yard.

Current photos of 501 and 411 E. 15th St.


After the Brownfields cleanup and redevelopment process is completed, the new facility will store equipment and provide workspace for City employees assigned to maintaining the creek. It will also include public restrooms. In addition to a maintenance facility, the City plans to redevelop the remainder of the property into a recreational space adjoining the creek.

Community Engagement

A plan for the space along the creek has not yet been developed. However, the illustration below is an example of how the former scrap yard could be transformed into a recreational area for residents and visitors to enjoy. Possibilities include parking, climbing equipment, a small park pavilion, open green space, basketball courts, an accessible fishing pier and/or boat ramp, outdoor exercise equipment, and more.

From September 14 to December 15, 2017, the City gathered feedback from residents on what types of activities and equipment in the future recreational space they thought would best serve the community. The public was asked to vote for their three favorite concepts from a list of twelve options and/or submit their ideas. Through a combination of events, paper ballots, and online forms, the City received almost 600 responses. The top five concepts were a natural playscape, climbing opportunities, a bike and scooter playground, access to the water, and outdoor fitness equipment. If you have an idea for the space that you would like to share, please email it to

The City's design team will review the input from the community and then determine what concepts will work best given the property's size and location. Ultimately, the design team's recommendation will be brought to the mayor and city council for their final approval. 

Blum-Redevelopment Example Only

Brownfields Cleanup Process

The former Blum Co. is on two properties: 501 and 411 E. 15th Street. Both properties are contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) compounds, lead, arsenic, and other hazardous substances. They will go through the Brownfields cleanup process before being redeveloped.


East Blum Site: 501 E. 15th St.

Between the railroad tracks and the Bee Branch Creek.

The City of Dubuque received a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields Cleanup Grant in 2016 to fund the cleanup of the East Blum site. The property was enrolled in the Iowa Department of Natural Resources' (IDNR) Land Recycling Program in July 2017 to assess and mitigate contamination in the soil.

In the spring of 2018, asbestos and lead were removed from the existing buildings. They were deconstructed in the summer of 2019. A site assessment, which included 29 soil borings, was completed in June 2019. The response action plan was implemented in September 2019. Three feet of soil was removed from the contaminated area which contained lead, arsenic, and chromium. Approximately 156 cubic yards of soil was brought to the Dubuque Metropolitan Area Solid Waste Agency’s landfill for disposal. The landfill treated the soil as non-hazardous material based on analytical results from composite samples. The site was backfilled with clean soil and graded to meet remedial design specifications. In January 2020, the site successfully completed the voluntary Iowa Land Recycling Program.

West Blum Site: 411 E. 15th St. 
Between the railroad tracks and Elm St. 

The first consideration in the cleanup of this site is to address the two structures present on the property. The western building along Elm St. will be redeveloped for future use. The southeastern building and the partially collapsed building will be deconstructed as they are not structurally sound to support future occupancy. The structure staying on site will be evaluated for the presence of lead-based paint, so that it may be remediated concurrently with the removal of other hazardous materials.

Like the East Blum site, the West Blum site will be enrolled in the IDNR Land Recycling Program, and after the removal of the buildings the soil will be sampled and a full remediation plan will be created. Once again, this could include the removal of contaminated soil or the encapsulation of contaminated soils in an on-site berm. Once the site is fully remediated the renovation of the building and redevelopment of the site as a recreational space will begin.

Environmental Benefits of Brownfields Cleanup

Brownfields cleanup supports the City’s sustainability goals by promoting smart growth, reducing sprawl, and protecting green space. EPA Brownfields resources for the former Blum Co. property will produce the following environmental benefits:

  • Improve air, surface water, groundwater, and soil quality;
  • Eliminate exposure pathways for aquatic life in the Mississippi River;
  • Recycling of building materials during demolition will reduce landfill waste; and
  • Green infrastructure on the revitalized property will help store rainwater where it falls, prevent flooding, and reduce polluted stormwater runoff.