Biden-Harris Administration Announces More Than $7.3 Million Through Investing in America Agenda for Cleanup and Technical Assistance at Polluted Brownfield Sites in Illinois
EPA announces the largest investment ever in brownfields communities made by President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda
CHICAGO (May 25, 2023) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced more than $7.3 million from President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda to expedite the assessment and cleanup of brownfield sites in Illinois while advancing environmental justice.
EPA selected nine communities in Illinois to receive nine grants totaling $7,307,771 in competitive EPA Brownfields funding through the Multipurpose, Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup (MARC) Grant programs. Thanks to the historic boost from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this is the largest-ever funding awarded in the history of the EPA’s Brownfields MARC Grant programs.
These investments are part of President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda to grow the American economy from the bottom up and middle-out – from rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, to driving over $470 billion in private sector manufacturing and clean energy investments in the United States, to creating a manufacturing and innovation boom powered by good-paying jobs that don’t require a four-year degree, to building a clean-energy economy that will combat climate change and make our communities more resilient.
“We’re working across the country to revitalize what were once dangerous and polluted sites in overburdened communities into more sustainable and environmentally just places that serve as community assets. Thanks to President Biden’s historic investments in America, we’re moving further and faster than ever before to clean up contaminated sites, spur economic redevelopment, and deliver relief that so many communities have been waiting for,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “This critical wave of investments is the largest in Brownfields history and will accelerate our work to protect the people and the planet by transforming what was once blight into might.”
“Given the Midwest’s rich industrial history, it’s no surprise that Illinois has a significant portion of EPA’s funded brownfields sites,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Debra Shore. “Thanks to the historic brownfields investment announced today, more communities will get the financial help they need to transform abandoned, blighted properties into assets that attract business and community development.”
“Today’s announcement that Illinois will receive more than $6.3 million in Brownfields Cleanup Grant funding is certainly welcome news,” said Senator Dick Durbin. “Cleaning up these industrial sites from hazardous chemicals and toxins will revitalize the land for ecological and economic benefit, ensuring that area residents are breathing clean air and drinking clean water while opening the door to future investment. I’ll continue to work alongside these communities to secure necessary federal funding for these areas to rebuild sustainably in the wake of the environmental damage done by harmful toxins.”
“This EPA-led initiative to help eliminate contaminated sites is crucial to protecting the health of children and families and achieving the environmental justice that we all deserve,” said Senator Tammy Duckworth. “Cleaning up brownfields is also a necessary step to help spur development, job creation and economic growth for affected communities, and as co-founder of the Senate’s Environmental Justice Caucus and author of many environmental justice provisions in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, I’m proud that these funds are going to Illinois communities that need it. I’ll keep working to help ensure that families across our state and nation can live in a safe environment without fear of toxins and pollution.”
“I’m thrilled that the EPA selected the Region 1 Planning Council to lead a Brownfields Assessment Coalition Grant for the greater Rockford area, including parts of Boone County,” said Representative Bill Foster. “This grant is integral in determining how we can remediate local brownfield sites to facilitate economic development and environmental revitalization. I’m proud to represent this area in Congress and I’m committed to working closely with my colleagues to promote the economic growth of this community.”
“Too many communities in Central and Northwestern Illinois struggle with pollution and other environmental challenges from decades ago," said Representative Eric Sorensen. “I'm thrilled to join the Environmental Protection Agency to announce over $4 million to revitalize burdened areas and set them up for economic success. Efforts like these will result in a healthier, stronger region for generations to come.”
“The work being done to redevelop the old Pillsbury Mills site will be transformative for our community -- particularly for families on the east side of Springfield,” said Representative Nikki Budzinski. “I’m thrilled to see more than $787,000 in federal funding from the Environmental Protection Agency as we continue to address the economic and environmental challenges that remain at this site. I look forward to being a strong partner to the folks at Moving Pillsbury Forward, including pushing to secure federal community project funding as we work to revitalize this dangerous site into an economic engine for our community.”
“Hand in hand with environmental justice comes economic opportunity and health equity—and that’s precisely what brownfield revitalization accomplishes,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Thanks to the Biden Administration’s funding for the MARC grant program alongside our landmark Rebuild Illinois Capital Plan, we are transforming unusable and underserved land into safe, sustainable spaces for Illinoisans to gather in their communities—all while creating more good-paying jobs and advancing our clean energy goals.”
Many communities that are under economic stress, particularly those located in areas that have experienced long periods of disinvestment and lack the resources needed to initiate brownfield cleanup and redevelopment projects. As brownfield sites are transformed into community assets, they attract jobs, promote economic revitalization and transform communities into sustainable and environmentally just places.
Thanks to the historic $1.5 billion boost from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, EPA’s Brownfields Program is helping more communities than ever before begin to address the economic, social, and environmental challenges caused by brownfields and stimulate economic opportunity, and environmental revitalization in historically overburdened communities.
EPA’s Brownfields Program also advances President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative to direct 40%of the overall benefits of certain Federal investments to disadvantaged communities. The Brownfields Program strives to meet this commitment and advance environmental justice and equity considerations into all aspects of its work. Approximately 84% of the MARC program applications selected to receive funding are for work in areas that include historically underserved communities.
State Funding Breakdown:
Brownfields Multipurpose, Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup (MARC) Grant Program Selection
The following organizations in Illinois have been selected to receive EPA Brownfields funding through the MARC Grant Programs.
- The City of Danville has been selected for a $983,606 grant that will be funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and used to clean up a 1.14-acre property that housed the former First Farmer’s Bank & Trust site, the former Fonner’s Dry Cleaners, as well as a former apartment building property, a filling station and residences at 815, 817, 821 North Vermilion Street and 816 North Hazel Street. The site is contaminated with tetrachloroethylene and petroleum. Grant funds will also support community meetings and public engagement activities.
“The City of Danville intends to utilize this grant to make the Southeast corner at the intersection of Vermilion and Fairchild a prime candidate for redevelopment,” said Danville Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. “With the cleanup of this site, we would have two acres of developable land in a high visibility area that nearly everyone who lives in or visits the City of Danville passes by. The improvement of this space will increase the morale of the whole City, especially considering its close proximity to Danville High School, where so many of our largest community events occur.”
- The City of Dixon has been selected for a $767,900 grant that will be funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and used to clean up the former Dixon Iron & Metals Company site at 78 Monroe Avenue. The 3.13-acre site was first developed for industrial purposes in the late 1890s, with historical uses including carpentry, lumber, coal, gravel, warehousing and a junkyard. The site was operated as a junkyard/scrap metal recycling facility from 1910 to 2017. It is contaminated with PCBs, volatile organic compounds, semi-volatile organic compounds, petroleum, free product light non-aqueous phase liquid, heavy metals and inorganic contaminants. Grant funds will also support community meetings and dissemination of public information.
“These U.S. EPA Brownfields Grant funds will be instrumental to the ongoing remediation efforts at the former recycling facility,” said Dixon Mayor Glen Hughes. “This funding will allow Dixon to bring to life plans that have been 20 years in the making for recreation and business opportunities along its beautiful river front.”
- The City of Freeport has been selected for a $1,757,730 grant that will be funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Grant funds will be used to clean up the Former One-Hour Martinizing Cleaners & Aloha Tattoo Site at 17 and 19 West Main Street. Both buildings were constructed in 1897. Until 1961, 19 West Main Street operated as a furniture store and warehouse; from 1961 to 2005, it operated as a dry cleaner. The building at 17 West Main Street operated as a camera shop, drug store, boot and shoe shop, and tattoo parlor. Both buildings were condemned and have remained vacant since 2016. The site is contaminated with volatile organic compounds, metals and inorganic contaminants. Grant funds also will be used for community engagement activities.
“The City of Freeport is eager to have this site remediated,” said Freeport Mayor Jodi Miller. “This funding puts us on a cleaner, more sustainable path that will contribute to the economic vitality for our historic downtown.”
- Moving Pillsbury Forward has been selected for a $787,135 grant that will be funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. EPA’s grant will fund Moving Pillsbury Forward’s cleanup of the former Pillsbury Mills site at 1525 E. Phillips Ave. The 18-acre site housed numerous grain silos and structures used for grain milling, manufacturing, warehousing, and offices. The area surrounding the site consists of a large railyard to the north and east, and residential properties to the south and west. Since closing in 2001, the site fell into disrepair and remains contaminated with heavy metals and inorganic compounds. The grant will also support community involvement activities.
“Moving Pillsbury Forward is deeply grateful for this significant award from the EPA,” said Moving Pillsbury Forward President Chris Richmond. “This grant of nearly $800,000 ensures that lead and asbestos will be removed from over 500,000 square feet of an abandoned flour mill whose cleanup has languished for over twenty years. Our community is now a huge step closer to resolving one of its biggest redevelopment challenges.”
- The Region 1 Planning Council in Rockford has been selected to administer a $1 million grant that will be funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Funding will be used to conduct 40 Phase I and 16 Phase II environmental site assessments. It will also be used to develop eight cleanup plans and five reuse plans and support community involvement activities. Assessments will focus on the Auburn Street Corridor in West Rockford; an area known as N 2nd Target Area in the Loves Park and Rockford and unincorporated areas in Winnebago County, downtown Belvidere, and the Broadway Corridor in South Rockford. Priority sites include a 5-acre vacant site with a history of residential and filling station uses, a former apple orchard, and a vacant site with a history of manufacturing uses that is adjacent to rail lines. Coalition members include Boone County, Winnebago County, and Rockford Mass Transit District.
“The announcement of U.S. EPA awarding Region 1 Planning Council one of the Brownfield Coalition Assessment Grant Awards is great news for Northern Illinois,” said Winnebago County Chairman Joe Chiarelli. “Winnebago County, along with Boone County and Rockford Mass Transit District as partners, welcome the funding to accommodate brownfield assessments of industrial corridors that are vital to the regional economy. Our region will be better positioned for private investment and redevelopment along these corridors thanks to the U.S. EPA’s award.”
“Region 1 Planning Council is excited to be awarded the U.S. EPA Brownfield Coalition Grant Award,” said Mayor Greg Jury, Chairman of Region 1 Planning Council. “This funding allows R1 and its partners - Boone County, Winnebago County and Rockford Mass Transit District – to assess the need for brownfield remediation along critical industrial corridors, ultimately positioning the two-county region for private investment and redevelopment.”
- EPA has selected the Village of Richton Park for a $400,000 community-wide grant to conduct 18 Phase I and ten Phase II environmental site assessments. The funding also will be used to prepare three cleanup plans and to conduct community engagement activities including community meetings. The target area will be Richton Park’s town center. Priority sites include former retail properties, a former gas station and a vacant lot near a former dry cleaner.
“The Village of Richton Park is thankful to receive a brownfield assessment award from the U.S. EPA,” said Village President Rick Reinbold. “These funds will be used to advance our community’s vision of transit-oriented development along the Chicagoland Metra Electric Line.”
- EPA has selected the City of Rock Falls for a $800,000 Brownfields multipurpose grant to conduct five Phase I and two Phase II environmental site assessments, create a thorough site inventory, develop a community involvement plan and conduct other community outreach activities. Grant funds will also be used to clean up a priority site – the two-acre 700 West 2nd Street property – which is part of the larger Parrish Alford Fence & Machine Company site that has been vacant since 2002. The target area for this project is a low-income community comprising 1.1 square miles of the downtown and residential area along the Rock River. It was historically occupied by manufacturing industries, which provided tax revenue, employment, and other business opportunities. However, manufacturing facility closures including Northwestern Steel and Wire, Reliant Fastener, and Stanley Black and Decker—resulted in the loss of thousands of jobs and a population decline which caused a decreased tax base, more vacant properties, and lower property values.
“We’re proud of our previous Brownfields successes and partnership with the EPA and this is another step in our commitment to the residents of Rock Falls to clean up our industrial past,” said Rock Falls Mayor Rodney Kleckler.
- EPA has selected the City of South Beloit for a $311,400 grant funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to clean up the CSB Shirland Avenue Property at 126 Shirland Avenue. The cleanup site has a long history of manufacturing and industrial uses, including refrigeration equipment assembly, steel fabrication, an automotive body shop, and a food distribution warehouse. Vacant since the facility was demolished in 2007, the site is contaminated with petroleum. Grant funds also will also support community outreach activities.
“Our goal is to revitalize the present while reimagining the future,” said South Beloit Mayor Tom Fitzgerald. “This project could not have left planning phases without the EPA Brownfields Cleanup Grant.”
- EPA has selected the City of Sterling for a $500,000 grant funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to clean up the 3.5-acre former Lawrence Brothers Hardware site located at 2 First Avenue. Vacant and unused since 2006, the site operated as a hardware manufacturer for nearly 100 years. It is contaminated with metals and inorganic contaminants. Grant funds also will be used for community engagement activities, including public meetings.
“The Brownfields Cleanup Grant is a critical element for our partnership with Gorman and Company to redevelop the former Lawrence Brothers and National Hardware facilities and bring the riverfront back to the community,” said Mayor Diana Merdian. “These prominent facilities were part of a proud past and the pieces are falling into place to again make them sources of pride and places for the community to gather and enjoy the riverfront opportunities.”
You can read more about this year’s MARC Grant selectees, here.
EPA has selected these organizations to receive funding to address and support the reuse of brownfield sites. EPA anticipates making all the awards announced today once all legal and administrative requirements are satisfied.
EPA’s Brownfields Program began in 1995 and has provided nearly $2.37 billion in Brownfield Grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return blighted properties to productive reuse. EPA’s investments in addressing brownfield sites have leveraged more than $36 billion in cleanup and redevelopment. Over the years, the relatively small investment of federal funding has leveraged, from both public and private sources, nearly 260,000 jobs. Communities that previously received Brownfields Grants used these resources to fund assessments and cleanups of brownfields, and successfully leverage an average of 10.6 jobs per $100,000 of EPA Brownfield Grant funds spent and $19.78 for every dollar.
The next National Brownfields Training Conference will be held on August 8-11, 2023, in Detroit, Michigan. Offered every two years, this conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing former commercial and industrial properties. EPA co-sponsors this event with the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).
- For more on Brownfields Grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types-brownfields-grant-funding
- For more on EPA’s Brownfields Program: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields