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EPA Grants Help North Carolina Cities Rejuvenate

Local business, state, and city leaders listen intently as EPA Southeast Regional Administrator Heather McTeer Toney recognizes the Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments and the cities of Wilson and Greenville, North Carolina as recipients of over $1,000,000 in EPA grants. (photo EPA)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator, Heather McTeer Toney joined Congressman G.K. Butterfield and other state and city leaders of North Carolina to recognize City partners Wilson and Greenville, NC and the Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments as recipients of a $1,000,000 Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund grant and a $400,000 Brownfields community-wide assessment grant. The monies awarded will be used to conduct assessments and redevelop contaminated properties in the eastern part of the state.

“These funds will give communities and businesses a chance to return to economic development and sustainability to underserved and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods throughout the assessment and cleanup of abandoned properties and industrial and commercial areas,” said McTeer Toney. “The investments will revitalize land use, boost local economies, make a visible difference in communities, and create jobs all while protecting public health and the environment.”

Each of the grant recipients have extensive histories revitalizing brownsfields with EPA funding. This is the fourth such award the City of Wilson and the City of Greenville have received. Separated by only 34 miles, the cities have demonstrated success redeveloping brownsfields.

Since receiving their first EPA grant in 2010, the City of Wilson has successfully redeveloped previously contaminated lands into viable commercial and residential spaces. Redevelopment of several other identified properties will continue with monies from the award. Plans include a new housing development, a neighborhood park for a low income community, and an Advanced Trade program facility through Wilson Community College.

The City of Greenville used the first EPA grant awarded them in 2008 to bolster the Center City – West Greenville Revitalization Plan initiated in 2006. The grant allowed the city to conduct assessments of properties for hazardous waste contamination in the historic and predominately African American community in West Greenville. Clean up grants were used to redevelop lands for mix-use developments and educational facilities. Through a partnership with the Eastern North Carolina Regional Science Center (Go-Science) the former 9,000 square foot Pugh service station was redeveloped into a first-class science learning facility for schools, children, and adults focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.

EPA grant monies awarded to The Upper Coastal Plains Council of Governments will assist the multi-county organization in continuing its assessments of brownsfields in rural areas. In four years, the regional council has identified over 400 brownsfields sites. Since receiving an EPA grant in 2011, 21 environmental site assessment activities have been performed. The new award will enable the trio of participating counties to follow through on plans to conduct 20 Phase I Environmental Site Assessments, eight Phase II Environmental Site Assessments, and complete three cleanup plans.

Across the eight states that comprise EPA’s southeastern region (Region 4), over ten million dollars in EPA Brownfields funding has been awarded through 45 grants to twenty-six communities. The funding helps communities return blighted and contaminated properties to productive, safe and healthy uses.

Other Items on this page:

Earth Day Proctor Creek Cleanup

EPA and volunteers from several community organizations joined together on Earth Day to remove trash and debris from Proctor Creek and other ecological areas.

Education and Action Dominate Earth Day Commemoration

Young and old from throughout the Southeast made the 44th observance of Earth Day well worth remembering. EPA and its partners acknowledged the day with a host of activities dedicated to expounding on this year’s theme, “Act on Climate”.

The Southeast Region joined EPA Headquarters, NASA and the Nature Conservancy in a national social media environmental awareness event. The Earth Day event invited individuals to connect with nature and share their love for the planet by posting self-portraits in nature or Nature “Selfies”.

Students at Woodward Academy

Students at Woodward Academy Primary School developed environmental awareness posters and presentations as part of the joint Earth Day observation with EPA.

The Region partnered with Woodward Academy staff and students for a trio of Earth Day activities that included a puppet show, environmental fair, and a book reading. Regional Administrator Heather McTeer Toney read “The Earth Book” to students in the first grade while pre-kindergarteners and kindergartners each enjoyed a puppet show put on by EPA staff. All students in grades K-3 attended the Earth Day Environmental Fair where EPA and several teams of third grade students presented information on topics such as climate change, energy conservation, and recycling.

In Cherokee, NC EPA conducted Earth Day educational activities at Cherokee Central Middle School. Activities conducted from the Student Curriculum: Recipes for Healthy Kids and a Healthy Environment educated students about environmental health and the steps they can take to reduce environmental risks and improve the environment for their community.

Cleaning up communities was a big part of several Earth Day activities EPA staff participated in alongside its partners, volunteers, and community organizations. Large quantities of trash, tires and debris were removed from Proctor Creek and Peachtree Creek in Atlanta, Georgia and the Firewood Street Neighborhood in Athens, Georgia.

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