Columbia Improvement District offers grants for oil storage downtown

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Improvement District is offering a grant incentive to downtown restaurants that would eliminate messy grease bins in public alleys.

Restaurants have to dispose significant amounts of grease using shared storage bins, and the grant incentive program would replace those bins with on-site bins.

Travis Metcalf, kitchen manager at the Broadway Brewery, said the placement of the shared bins is not always convenient for all restaurants. 

"For us, it's really convenient because the bin is right behind us, but restaurants like Sycamore have to walk all the way to dispose their grease," Metcalf said. 

According to the district, the grant will help clean public alleys, reduce risk to the storm water system and create a safer working environment. 

Restaurant interested in the grant will have to apply to be eligible for the following incentives:

  • 50 percent match (up to $1,000) toward external grease tanks and installation
  • 75 percent match (up to $2,000) toward internal grease tanks and installation
  • 100 percent toward internal grease tanks and installation for the first $10,000 of grant requests

Seth Reynolds, a local grease recycler for restaurants, said the program might not work for the businesses he picks up grease from.

"I think that a lot of restaurants are still not going to be interested in the grant program, ultimately," Reynolds said. "Mainly, because many of them don't have the room and/or the thousands and thousands of dollars it costs to install all these programs."

Reynolds said the grant does not consider the age of the buildings. 

"These buildings downtown are a hundred or two hundred years old, the kitchens are very, very small, and it would take a lot of work to be able to get a room for any closed barrels in restaurants," he said. Even with the grant, "there's a lot of money in plumbing."

"I think it might help some businesses," he said, "but I think a lot of them will have a hard time, even if they wanted to do it."

Grant applications close April 30. 

More information on the grant program can be found on the districts website