News Releases from Region 03
EPA Announces $2.4 million in Brownfields Grants for Virginia
EPA designates a total of $54.5 million for Brownfields nationwide
WASHINGTON (April 25, 2018) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded Brownfields grants to 144 communities for environmental assessment, revolving loan funds, and cleanups. The 221 grants totaling $54.3 million will provide communities with funding to assess, clean up and redevelop underutilized properties while protecting public health and the environment. The grants include $2.4 million to support Brownfields projects in Virginia.
“EPA’s Brownfields Program expands the ability of communities to recycle vacant and abandoned properties for new, productive reuses, using existing infrastructure," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. "These grants leverage other public and private investments, and improve local economies through property cleanup and redevelopment.”
“EPA’s Brownfields grants provide a boost to communities by helping to put people back to work while also creating cleaner, healthier and economically stronger neighborhoods,” said EPA Region 3 Administrator Cosmo Servidio. “Virginia communities will use this funding to explore ideas on how properties can be cleaned up and returned to productive use."
The six Brownfields projects in Virginia include the following:
The Alleghany Highlands Economic Development Corp. in Alleghany County will receive $600,000 to conduct site assessments on properties that could by contaminated with petroleum or hazardous substances, and determine the feasibility for cleanup and redevelopment. Assessments will focus on the four locations including Alleghany County, the towns of Clifton Forge and Iron Gate, and the city of Covington.
“The loss of jobs from declining industries and closing of traditional factories have left much of the Alleghany Highlands region impoverished,” said Executive Director of the Alleghany Highlands Economic Development Corp. Marla Akridge. “Our Brownfields redevelopment initiative will complement and enhance ongoing and planned economic development projects that focus on innovative products and advanced technologies and manufacturing. This grant will provide a much-needed boost toward transforming the City of Covington, County of Alleghany, Town of Clifton Forge and Iron Gate.”
Wise County will receive $600,000 to conduct site assessments of mine-scarred properties in the Guest River Watershed that could by contaminated with petroleum or hazardous substances, and determine the feasibility for cleanup and redevelopment.
“The EPA assessment grant is a tremendous opportunity for the county to work with the city of Norton and our towns to develop site assessments and facilitate redevelopment of the Guest River Watershed,” said County Finance Administrator David Cox. “Wise County is working diligently with its regional partners to diversify our economy through additional economic development and additional tourism destinations.”
Lynchburg Economic Development Authority will receive $300,000 to conduct environmental site assessments and develop cleanup plans for a section of the city known as the Tyreeanna area. Grant funds will be used to expand the existing Brownfields inventory and hold public informational meetings.
“Lynchburg’s Fields of Opportunity program works with property owners to identify, assess and prepare for potential cleanup of previously hazardous buildings or sites and gives the community the opportunity to reap the benefits of redevelopment and restore economic vitality,” said Director City of Lynchburg Office of Economic Development & Tourism Marjette Upshur. “Building upon the success of the city’s first EPA Brownfields assessment grant in 2015, focusing on Downtown and Mid-Town properties, the Economic Development Authority will now focus efforts on Tyreeanna, one of the city’s gateways, to directly impact citizens by improving economic opportunities and reducing environmental and health risks associated with potential Brownfields sites in their midst.”
Northampton County will receive $300,000 to conduct environmental assessments and prepare clean plans for locations along the Highway 13 corridor and the county’s portion of the Virginia Enterprise Zone to determine the feasibility for cleanup and redevelopment. Grant funds will also be used to hold community-wide focus groups.
“On behalf of the Northampton County Board of Supervisors I would like to express our appreciation to the EPA for awarding us a Brownfields community-wide assessment grant,” said County Administrator Charles Kolakowski.” This grant will assist the county in our efforts to revitalize currently vacant buildings and properties which may have environmental issues.”
The Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University will receive $300,000 to conduct environmental assessments and prepare clean plans for mine-scarred lands within the Southwest Virginia Coalfield region, with an initial focus on the Towns of Honaker, Pocahontas, St. Paul, and Appalachia. The assessments will help determine the feasibility for cleanup and redevelopment. Grant funds will also be used to create community steering committees.
“The Community Design Assistance Center, an outreach center in the College of Architecture & Urban Studies at Virginia Tech will use the Brownfields assessment grant to focus on a 10-county region of southwest Virginia that has largely been impacted by the economic downturn in the coalfields,” said Director, Community Design Assistance Center/Virginia Tech Elizabeth Gilboy. “This includes Bland, Buchanan, Dickenson, Giles, Lee, Scott, Tazewell, Russell, Washington, and Wise Counties. This is an opportunity for these small towns to once again become economic hubs for the region with small businesses, retail, and restaurants in the downtowns that cater to visitors and residents alike.”
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will receive $300,000 to conduct environmental assessments on properties in southwestern Virginia including the counties of Bland, Carroll, Grayson, Smyth, and Wythe, and the City of Galax. The assessments will help determine the feasibility for cleanup and redevelopment. Grant funds will also be used to conduct community outreach activities.
“Virginia DEQ is dedicated to helping each EPA grantee transform their Brownfields sites into community-driven revitalization that will have a lasting impact on the environment and their economic future,” said Virginia DEQ Brownfields Coordinator Vince Maiden. “We are excited that these awards reflect our focus on assisting all communities across the Commonwealth, especially small rural communities, towns and cities, and remain committed to helping each successful applicant leverage this funding to write their own Brownfields success story.”
The Brownfields Program targets communities that are economically disadvantaged and provides funding and assistance to transform contaminated sites into assets that can generate jobs and spur economic growth. A study analyzing 48 Brownfields sites found that an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional tax revenue was generated for local governments 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 Brownfield sites. Another study found that property values of homes located near Brownfields sites that are cleaned up increased between 5 and 15 percent post cleanup.
Communities can use Brownfields funding to leverage considerable infrastructure and other financial resources. For example, EPA’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund can be used to address the water quality aspects of Brownfield sites and the assessment and construction of drinking water infrastructure on Brownfields, respectively. EPA’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program may also serve as a potential source of long-term, low-cost supplemental financing to fund Brownfields project development and implementation activities to address water quality aspects of Brownfields.
List of the FY 2018 Applicants Selected for Funding:
For more information on the ARC grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types-brownfields-grant-funding.
For more information on EPA’s Brownfields Program: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields.
For more information on how Brownfields restoration has positively impacted local economies and the quality of life for neighboring communities: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-success-stories.