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EPA funding for redevelopment in the Lehigh Valley

Release Date: 5/12/2005
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith, 215-814-5543

Bonnie Smith, 215-814-5543

PHILADELPHIA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a $400,000 brownfields grant to the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation to assess potentially contaminated sites in Lehigh and Northampton Counties. Brownfields are abandoned properties where contamination has been a barrier to redevelopment.

“Brownfields initiatives demonstrate how environmental protection and economic development go hand-in-hand. Brownfields grants and revolving loans help communities assess, and if needed, clean up an abandoned eyesore, provide employment, and turn problem properties into productive reuse,” said Donald S. Welsh, administrator for EPA’s mid-Atlantic region.

Funds are made available under the Brownfields Revitalization Act for assessment, cleanup and job training, and for state revolving loan funds and state grants programs. The 2002 law expanded the definition of what’s considered a brownfield, so communities may now include sites contaminated with petroleum, as well as lands scarred by mining. Regionally, this round of grants is providing the largest brownfields funding since the 2002 law was enacted.

EPA has selected the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) for a brownfields assessment grant — for assessing sites with potential hazardous substances and petroleum contamination.

This is the first time that brownfields funds have been available to communities in the Lehigh Valley for assessing old gas stations and other sites with potential petroleum contamination. So, this is a new area that the LVEDC will have the ability to address. LVEDC will work with local municipalities to identify sites for assessment. The funds will be used in cites and boroughs of Lehigh and Northampton Counties to conduct community outreach, conduct site assessment, develop cleanup plans, and promote green space.

Steve Fessler, director of the Lehigh Valley Land Recycling Initiative said, “Grants of this nature are extremely helpful in making the Lehigh Valley’s former industrial sites attractive again for future development. Grants from EPA and other state and federal agencies are incentives for landowners and developers interested in exploring the redevelopment of a brownfields site.”

The Lehigh Valley, is one of 17 communities receiving brownfields grants in the mid-Atlantic region this spring. Nationally, communities in 44 states will share more than $75 million in brownfields grants to help revitalize former industrial and commercial sites, transforming them from problem properties into community assets.

Brownfields encourages the redevelopment of America's estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites. Since the beginning of the brownfields program, nationwide EPA has awarded 709 assessment grants totaling over $190 million, 189 revolving loan fund grants totaling more than $165 million, and $26.8 million for 150 cleanup grants.

In addition to facilitating industrial and commercial redevelopment, brownfields projects have converted industrial waterfronts to river-front parks, landfills to golf courses, rail corridors to recreational trails, and gas station sites to housing. EPA's brownfields assistance has led to more than $7 billion in public and private investment in cleanup and redevelopment, helped create more than 31,000 jobs, and resulted in the assessment of more than 5,100 properties. More than 60 percent of the people completing brownfields training programs have landed jobs in the environmental field.

For every dollar of federal money spent on brownfields cleanup activities, cities and states produce or leverage $2.50 in private investment and preserved 4.5 acres of green space for every acre of brownfields redeveloped.

A summary of the grants is attached. For additional information and fact sheets on each project funded see EPA’s website at