City of Topeka, Kansas, Selected for $300K EPA Brownfields Grant to Address Contaminated Properties
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Lenexa, Kan., May 19, 2021) - Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the selection of the city of Topeka, Kansas, to receive $300,000 in EPA Brownfields funding through the Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup (MAC) Grant Program. The Agency also announced the selection of Kansas State University for a multiyear, multi-region Technical Assistance to Brownfields (TAB) Grant.
During the press event at Topeka’s Red Bud Park, part of the NOTO Arts and Entertainment District, Acting EPA Region 7 Administrator Edward Chu was joined by Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Lee Norman, M.D., in presenting novelty big checks to Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla and Dr. Matthew O'Keefe, dean of the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering at Kansas State University.
The city plans to continue its momentum for revitalization by updating the inventory and prioritization of sites and conducting Phase I and Phase II environmental site assessments. The city will also prepare cleanup and reuse plans and conduct community involvement activities. Priority sites under the grant project include the proposed Oregon Trail Riverfront Park properties, and the River South Waterfront properties.
Cleanup and redevelopment of the properties will attract residents and businesses to the area by providing healthy life choices and jobs in a safe, walkable environment, including the downtown business area, trails, riverfront and park amenities, as well as entertainment offerings and upgrades to the surrounding neighborhoods.
K-State was selected to receive $5 million in TAB funding to provide assistance to communities like Topeka in EPA Regions 5, 6, 7 and 8, and coordinate with the other selected recipients on nationally-led efforts and tools. K-State and Topeka are in EPA Region 7.
Much of the technical assistance will be provided to communities in underserved and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods – places where environmental cleanups and new jobs are most needed. This assistance comes at no cost to communities.
“Through our Brownfields Program, EPA is delivering on the Biden administration’s commitment to lifting up and protecting overburdened communities across America, especially communities that have experienced long periods of disinvestment and decay,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “These assessment and cleanup grants will not only support economic growth and job creation, but they will also empower communities to address the environmental, public health, and social issues associated with contaminated land.”
“These funds will be instrumental in ensuring environmentally friendly housing, roads, park amenities, and new economic development projects to improve Kansans’ quality of life,” said Governor Laura Kelly. “I look forward to following this partnership and thank the EPA for their work to spur sustainable economic growth in Kansas now and in the future.”
“Communities can achieve important outcomes with Brownfields funding,” said Acting EPA Region 7 Administrator Edward H. Chu. “Topeka is working to revitalize the riverfront, building on the successes they’ve had with previous Brownfields funding. The work they’re doing is a great example of how cities can build momentum in their efforts to redevelop brownfield sites into thriving, productive neighborhoods.”
“During a time when COVID has caused uncertainty for what lies ahead, Topeka has looked to the future and planned for building a better community through the redevelopment of NOTO and the Kansas Riverfront,” said Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Lee Norman.
“We are excited to continue the Brownfields assessments with the EPA. This is a vital tool to help redevelopment in Topeka through identifying contaminated properties,” said Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla. “This ensures that Topeka is continuing to be environmentally conscious and make great strides to make our community a healthier and desirable place to live.”
“Kansas State University is honored to be selected to continue in its role of serving communities and tribes across the country through the work of the Hazardous Substance Research Center in the College of Engineering," said Matt O'Keefe, K-State dean of engineering. "The renewal of this grant is a testimony to the skilled accomplishments of Director Blase Leven and his team in the important arena of environmental cleanup and development in areas of EPA Regions 5, 6, 7 and 8 in need of this assistance."
“Restoring key sites in Topeka to ensure they are safe for development of new businesses, parks and trails will provide new economic opportunities for the community,” said U.S. Senator Jerry Moran. “This grant will make the city safer and bring new life to the Riverfront area.”
“EPA Brownfields site funding for site assessment as well as clean and reuse plans are a valuable part of Topeka’s future growth and development plan,” said U.S. Senator Roger Marshall. “I applaud the city’s investment and ongoing efforts to improve and restore properties across Topeka and revitalize underserved parts of the community.”
The list of the fiscal year 2021 applicants selected for funding is available online.
EPA anticipates that it will award the grants once all legal and administrative requirements are satisfied by the selected recipients.
Since its inception in 1995, EPA's Brownfields Program has provided nearly $1.76 billion in grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return them to productive reuse. This has led to significant benefits for communities across the country. For example:
- To date, communities participating in the Brownfields Program have been able to attract over $34.4 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funding after receiving Brownfields funds. This has led to over 175,500 jobs in cleanup, construction and redevelopment.
- Based on grant recipient reporting, recipients leveraged an average of $20.13 for each EPA Brownfields dollar and 10.3 jobs per $100,000 of EPA Brownfields Grant funds expended on assessment, cleanup, and revolving loan fund cooperative agreements.
- In addition, an academic peer-reviewed study has found that residential properties near brownfield sites increased in value by 5% to 15.2% as a result of cleanup activities.
- Finally, analyzing data near 48 brownfields, EPA found an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional tax revenue for local governments in a single year after cleanup – two to seven times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of those brownfield sites.
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