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Council Bluffs, Iowa, Receives $300,000 Grant for Brownfields Environmental Assessment and Cleanup Planning

05/06/2020
Contact Information: 
Ashley Murdie (murdie.ashley@epa.gov)
913-551-7785

Environmental News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Lenexa, Kan., May 6, 2020) - The city of Council Bluffs, Iowa, was selected to receive a $300,000 Brownfields Assessment Grant by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today to conduct environmental site assessments, cleanup planning, and community outreach activities in the city.

Under the Trump administration, EPA has delivered approximately $287 million in Brownfield grants directly to communities and nonprofits for cleanup and redevelopment, job creation, and economic development through the award of over 948 grants.

Nationwide, this year EPA is announcing the selection of 155 grants for communities and tribes totaling over $65.6 million in EPA Brownfields funding through the Agency’s Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grant programs. These funds will aid underserved and economically disadvantaged communities, including neighborhoods located in Opportunity Zones, in assessing and cleaning up abandoned industrial and commercial properties. An Opportunity Zone is an economically-distressed community where new investment, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment.

“We are pleased to recognize the city of Council Bluffs and look forward to the opportunities this EPA Brownfields Grant will provide the community,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford. “Through the assessment, cleanup and revitalization of brownfield sites, communities can put underutilized properties back to good use. Reclaiming these sites benefits the community and its residents, our economy, and our environment.”

City officials will use the $300,000 grant to conduct 23 environmental site assessments. Grant funds will also be used to inventory brownfield sites, develop two site-specific cleanup plans, and support community outreach and reuse planning activities. Assessment activities will focus on the city’s South Expressway Corridor, part of a Qualified Opportunity Zone. Areas with priority sites include the Arts and Cultural District, 16th Avenue area west of the South Expressway, and Iowa Highway 275 area north of Lake Manawa.

“We are thankful for EPA’s generous grant support, which will enable Council Bluffs to identify and assess brownfield sites for potential redevelopment in our south end area. In the past, the city has utilized EPA funding to assess over 20 properties, which led to three contaminated site cleanups,”  said Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh. “Of the sites assessed and cleaned up, 11 have been redeveloped or are in the process of redevelopment, including the Harvester Lofts, the Hoff Center, and the West Broadway Corridor. This grant award will continue our efforts to identify potential hazards, prepare for remediation, and create new development opportunities within Council Bluffs.”

​Nearly 30% of the communities announced nationwide today will receive Brownfields funding for the first time. Of the 151 communities selected, 118 can potentially assess or clean up brownfield sites in census tracts designated in Opportunity Zones.

Grants awarded by EPA’s Brownfields Program provide communities across the country with an opportunity to transform contaminated sites into community assets that attract jobs and achieve broader economic development outcomes, while taking advantage of existing infrastructure. For example, Brownfields grants are shown to:
 
  • Increase Local Tax Revenue: A study of 48 brownfield sites found that an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional local tax revenue was generated in a single year after cleanup. This is two to seven times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of these sites.
  • Increase Residential Property Values: Another study found that property values of homes near revitalized brownfield sites increased between 5 and 15% following cleanup.

List of the FY 2020 Applicants Selected for Funding is available online.

Background

A brownfield is a property for which the expansion, redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence, or potential presence, of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant. There are estimated to be more than 450,000 brownfields in the United States. EPA’s Brownfields Program began in 1995 and has provided nearly $1.6 billion in Brownfields grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return blighted properties to productive reuse. To date, brownfields investments have leveraged more than $31 billion in cleanup and redevelopment. Over the years, the relatively small investment of federal funding, from both public and private sources, leveraged more than 160,000 jobs.

The Brownfields Program has supported many successful projects in EPA Region 7’s four states (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska). The Steeple Square complex includes a community center, supportive housing, and child center developed after Brownfield assessments on the former historic St. Mary’s Parish campus buildings through a grant to the city of Dubuque, Iowa. Brownfields funding for the Jordan Valley West Meadows Project is transforming what was once an abandoned railyard vulnerable to flooding into an urban greenway in the heart of Springfield, Missouri. The West Haymarket area of Lincoln, Nebraska, is a prime example of how a community can use EPA Brownfields assessment and cleanup grants to leverage multiple sources of additional funding, technical assistance, and community support to drive and expand growth. Leavenworth, Kansas, used Brownfield funds to cleanup lead paint, asbestos, and soil contamination to convert an industrial site into apartments as part of a downtown historic revitalization.

The next National Brownfields Training Conference will be held on April 26-30, 2021, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 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 information on Brownfields grants, visit EPA’s website.

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Learn more about EPA’s Brownfields Program

Learn more about EPA’s role in Opportunity Zones

Learn more about the Brownfields Program’s environmental and economic benefits

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