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EPA Gives Johnstown Additional $800,000 for Brownfields Cleanup & Study - Majority will go towards restoring the former Bethlehem Steel Lower Works Complex

Release Date: 6/15/2004
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith, 215-814-5543

Bonnie Smith, 215-814-5543

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that Johnstown will be awarded four brownfields grants, each worth $200,000, to clean up and study environmentally contaminated sites throughout the city. Brownfields are abandoned properties where contamination has been a barrier to redevelopment.

Three of the grants awarded today will be devoted to redeveloping the Bethlehem Steel Lower Works Complex into a historical center and a light industrial business complex. The fourth grant will be used to assess the contamination at various former industrial properties throughout inner-city Johnstown.

“The Brownfields program was created with cities like Johnstown in mind – places with great industrial pasts that have fallen on hard times,” said EPA Region III Chief of Staff Richard Kampf. “The Brownfields program recognizes that former industrial properties, located near transportation and existing infrastructure, have great potential for reuse. Their redevelopment can boost the tax base, create jobs, and restore pride in their communities.”

“The Johnstown Redevelopment Authority has been actively addressing brownfield sites through the reuse and revitalization of abandoned land and buildings for a decade. Our chief Brownfield Coordinator, Debbie Walter, has been instrumental in leveraging EPA funds with Pennsylvania brownfield activities to generate private investment in Johnstown,” said Ronald Repak, executive director Johnstown Redevelopment Authority.

The Bethlehem Steel Lower Works Complex, located along Iron Street, is a vacant reminder of the Johnstown’s industrial heritage. Bethlehem Steel was the major employer and owned more than 1,000 acres in Johnstown . When the company closed its doors in 1992 and declared bankruptcy in 2001, the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority decided to reclaim the company’s abandoned, blighted properties and redevelop them.

One of the $200,000 cleanup grants will be used to restore the Historic Landmark Blacksmith Shop at 104 Iron Street, formerly part of the Cambria Iron Works and Bethlehem Steel Works. Built in 1854 and closed in 1992, it has been designated by the National Park Service as a “Damaged and Threatened National Historic Landmark.”

Throughout the shop’s 150 years of operation, it served as a metal foundry and forging operation and still houses the original tools, work stations and a 10-ton steam hammer that is owned by the Smithsonian Institute. The goal of the project is to restore the building as a regional tourist attraction.

A second $200,000 cleanup grant will be used to restore the Electrical Storage Building adjacent to the Blacksmith’s Shop. The building, also part of the Bethlehem Steel complex, originally was used as an engine house to serve the blast furnace operations. The building is now vacant and contaminated with asbestos, PCBs, solvents, tars and cylinders of propane, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen.

The third $200,000 cleanup grant will go toward cleaning up the Lower Cambria Iron Works vacant lot, which lies within the Bethlehem Steel Lower Works Complex. It consists of a 12-acre parcel of ground that formerly held several industrial buildings used in steel making. Bethlehem Steel demolished these buildings in the 1990s, but the land is littered with remnants of the former buildings, roads, rail lines, concrete foundations and several contaminants.

Finally, a fourth grant for $200,000 will be used to assess the contamination at various former industrial properties throughout inner-city Johnstown, including the Rosedale Keystone Opportuniy Zone, a 15-acre piece of property situated above the Cambria Lower Works. These assessments are the first step toward redevelopment.

The revitalization of the iron works facility has been helped by more than $2 million in local, state, regional and federal funds. The EPA has provided $400,000 in assessment grants to Johnstown, one in 1998 and the other in 2002. Some of these assessment funds were used to assess the contamination at the Bethlehem Steel Lower Works Complex.

The Johnstown Redevelopment Authority is also working with the National Park Service, the U.S. Department of Commerce and Economic Development Adminsitration, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Southwestern Pennsylvania Preservation Heritage Commission, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

The mid-Atlantic office of the EPA announced 11 additional brownfields grant recipients today, including: 1) Borough of Central City, Pa. – $200,000; 2) City of Hampton, Va. – $200,000; 3) City of Parkersburg, W.Va. – $200,000; 4) City of Philadelphia – $300,000; 5) Pittsburgh Redevelopment Authority – $160,000; 6) City of Ranson, W.Va. – $145,000; 7) City of Richmond, Va. – $200,000; 8) West-to-West Coalition, Inc., Pa. – $400,000; 9) York County Redevelopment Authority, York, Pa. – $350,000; 10) City of Baltimore – $200,000; and 11) Bucks County, Pa. – $1 million for a revolving loan fund. Summaries of these grants are on the attached sheet.

Since 1993, EPA has provided nearly $700 million in Brownfields funding nationwide to empower states, communities, and other stakeholders to prevent, assess, clean up and redevelop brownfields. Experience has shown that every dollar in federal money spend on brownfields leverages about two and a half dollars in private investment. In addition, every acre of brownfields that is restore saves more than four and a half acres of open green space.

For more information about the brownfields program go to the website at: For information on the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority go to the website at: .

Note to Radio Editors: To listen to or download a recorded mp3 audio message about any of today’s brownfields grant recipients, go to the website at:

2004 EPA Region 3 Brownfields Grant Recipients

Borough of Central City, Somerset County, Pa. B $200,000 Assessment Grant - to assess contamination caused by acid mine drainage in the Dark Shade Creek Watershed. The entire
34-square-mile watershed is scarred with mountains of coal waste that leaches metals and acidity into the soil and surface water. The project=s goal is to transform the Dark Shade Valley into a cleaner, healthier community.

City of Hampton, Va. - $200,000 Assessment Grant B to select and assess potential brownfields sites throughout the city. The City=s Downtown Technology Zone, a designated redevelopment zone, will be the focal area of the grant activities.

City of Parkersburg, W.Va. B $200,000 Assessment Grant - to assess sites throughout the city contaminated with oil and gas. Parkersburg was the industrial center for the mid-Ohio Valley, and much of the downtown and surrounding areas were dotted with oil storage and refining operations.

Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority - $160,000 Assessment Grant B to assess contamination on a former service station property located in the economically depressed area of the city, known as the Hill District. Environmental impacts of spills, improper use of the sewer system and leaking above-ground and underground gas tanks will be evaluated.

Cities of Charles Town and Ranson, W.Va. - $145,000 Assessment Grant B to continue progress on the ACommerce Corridor Brownfields Revitalization,@ a project that seeks to redevelop an abandoned corridor of blighted properties. The plan is to turn the corridor into a complex of commercial and retail businesses, parks and recreational space and government facilities to serve this growing community of 6,000 on the edge of the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area.

City of Richmond, Va. - $200,000 Assessment Grant - to identify the city=s multiple brownfields sites where the contamination is petroleum-related and assist with assessment cost. No individual sites have been selected, rather, the city will distribute the money as eligible sites are identified.

West-to-West Coalition, Duquesne, Pa. - $400,000 Assessment Grant - to provide brownfields expertise to local planning boards and redevelopment authorities in the Monongahela River Valley. Their expertise is geared toward assessment of sites contaminated with hazardous substances or petroleum.

City of Philadelphia - $300,000 Assessment Grant B to conduct an assessment and develop a cleanup plan for a four-acre site that was used for petroleum storage and distribution.

2004 EPA Region 3 Brownfields Grant Recipients

Redevelopment Authority of the County of York, York, Pa. - $350,000 Assessment Grant B to assess contamination along the Codorus Creek. The Codorus, like many waterways, was a fundamental organizing feature in the planning and development of York. Today, the corridor has over 250 acres of abandoned or underutilized brownfield sites.

City of Baltimore B $200,000 Cleanup Grant - to clean up two sites in the Brooklyn-Fairfield area of Baltimore. One property is a former salvage yard that holds promise for accommodating new development to complement the adjacent Brooklyn commercial area. The other property , the Old Fairfield site, is also a former salvage yard. It is currently an eyesore and dumping ground, but together once the two sites are cleaned up, they will further the city=s efforts to establish an eco-industrial park.

Bucks County, Pa. - $1 Million Revolving Loan Fund Grant - which will allow the county to establish and manage a revolving loan fund that will be used to finance the remediation of hazardous substances and /or petroleum at numerous brownfields properties throughout the county. In particular, the loans will target portions of six communities in Lower Bucks County that have been designated as an enterprise zone.

Johnstown Redevelopment Authority - $800,000 Cleanup &Assessment Grants B which will go towards cleaning up the Bethlehem Steel Lower Works Complex and redeveloping the site as an historical center and a light industrial complex. Part of the money will be used to assess contamination at various former industrial properties throughout inner-city Johnstown.