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Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

Riding the Rails to Land Revitalization

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Members of the Fremont community joined Mayor Bob Wasserman (Center Left) and EPA Brownfields Project Manager Dave Hodges (Center Right) in a groundbreaking event.

Carolyn Douglas, Regional Brownfields Coordinator for EPA Region 9, joined Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman and other city officials at a ground breaking ceremony in Fremont, Calif. where the Fremont Redevelopment Agency will use $200,000 in Brownfields funding to revitalize the historic downtown Niles Square.  Now an abandoned rail yard, Niles Square is contaminated with arsenic, lead and petroleum hydrocarbons.

Fremont's July 12th groundbreaking celebrated the future redevelopment of Niles Town Plaza, a new public mixed-use development.

"EPA's Waste Management Division is looking forward to working with Fremont on this innovative land revitalization project," said Dave Hodges, Brownfields Project Manager. "Fremont was selected from a number of applicants for a Brownfields grant because of its demonstrated commitment to environmental protection and economic improvement."

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An EPA Brownfields grant will help the city clean up a former railyard site which includes a historic Union Pacific freight building.

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The future Niles Town Plaza will feature historic railroad artifacts and a public amphitheatre.
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Fremont's Niles District redevelopment will echo the community's railroad heritage.

EPA is one of several project partners contributing to the property's revitalization. The City worked closely with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, the Alameda County Water District, and the Fremont community to develop a health-protective plan to clean up the site.

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(L-R) EPA Brownfields Project Manager Dave Hodges, Special Projects Manager Dan Schoenholz with the City of Fremont, and EPA Brownfields Coordinator Carolyn Douglas celebrated the Brownfield cleanup grant award.

The historic Niles District of Fremont was once a vibrant commercial district with a rich railroad heritage, dating back to the building of the original transcontinental railroad. Much of the Niles commercial district was designated a Redevelopment Project Area due to blighted conditions resulting from the decline of rail transportation and the loss of agricultural and industrial employment that took place during the post-World War II decades. The estimated remediation budget is $4,300,000 and the project will remove 16,700 tons of soil contaminated with elevated levels of arsenic, lead and petroleum hydrocarbons.

Post-cleanup redevelopment plans include a central plaza with mixed-use retail and new and affordable housing units. The envisioned plaza would serve as a community gathering place that attracts investment and new jobs, and enhances tax revenues.  Redevelopment plans feature two restored historic train buildings, a fountain, pedestrian walkways, attractive landscaping, and a slightly-sloped amphitheatre with a seat wall. The Redevelopment Agency anticipates completing the first phase of soil removal by the fall.  Construction of the plaza will begin in late 2007.

More Information

City of Fremont's work on the Niles Redevelopment Project Area Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer

EPA's Brownfields program and how to apply for funding

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