One year after a historic $30 million settlement, the St. Louis Business Journal has published an in-depth article about the political and legal team that came together to do the impossible: Clean up a highly toxic Superfund site for the benefit of the Boys & Girls Club.
Central to that effort, the newspaper wrote, was Thompson Coburn’s pro bono commitment to completing the extensive environmental and real estate work needed to transform the 10-acre Carter Carburetor Superfund site.
It all started with Thompson Coburn partner Mary Bonacorsi, a longtime board member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis. “Bonacorsi enlisted the assistance of fellow partner Peter Strassner, who has extensive experience working on complex environmental projects,” the St. Louis Business Journal wrote in the Aug. 5 article, “Cleaning the Carter Carburetor site to transform a neighborhood.”
“I confess I had no idea what I was getting into at the time,” Strassner told the Business Journal. But after hearing about the contamination and the unsafe conditions that had plagued neighboring residents for nearly two decades, Strassner was on board. “It was the opportunity of a lifetime to do something on the environmental justice score,” he said.
Thompson Coburn partner Anne-Marie Kienker led real estate work on the project. She helped negotiate and draft the multiple agreements needed to provide the Boys & Girls Club with the option to acquire and lease significant additional property following the planned cleanup.
Throughout the negotiations over the project, “the many key players were meeting weekly to go over details of the cleanup, including who was responsible, how it would be done and when it would be considered completely safe,” the Business Journal wrote.
“I never worried that it wasn’t going to happen, but there were many times when I was wondering how this was going to happen,” Strassner told the newspaper. “I’ve been involved in many complex business transactions. This deal was as complex as any business transactions I have been involved with.”
From very early on in the project, the attorneys’ efforts were supported by Thompson Coburn and its chairman, Tom Minogue.
“He said, ‘You’ve got the full support of the firm. This is a unique opportunity to make an impact.’ He recognized what this was,” Strassner said.
In 2013, the Boys & Girls Club honored Thompson Coburn for its pro bono service on the project with a National Award of Merit. Strassner and Kienker received Capture the Vision Awards, and Bonacorsi was honored with the National Service to Youth Award.