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EPA announces $3.3 million in Brownfields Grants to seven Virginia communities

07/24/2019
Contact Information: 
US EPA Region 3 (R3press@epa.gov)

NORFOLK, Va. (July 24, 2019) – In conjunction with the start of Virginia’s Annual  Brownfields Conference today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $3.3 million in Brownfields funding benefitting seven Virginia communities.  The seven are among 149 communities selected to receive 151 grant awards totaling $64,623,553 million in EPA Brownfields funding.  These grants help communities assess and clean up abandoned industrial and commercial properties for redevelopment and reuse.

 “These grants fulfill several of President Trump’s top priorities simultaneously: helping communities in need transform contaminated sites into community assets that not only create jobs and jumpstart economic development but also improve public health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “We are targeting these funds to areas that need them the most. Approximately 40 percent of the selected recipients are receiving Brownfields grants for the first time, which means we are reaching areas that may previously been neglected, and 108 of the selected communities have identified sites or targeted areas for redevelopment that fall within Opportunity Zones.”

Six of the Virginia grantees will conduct environmental assessments or redevelopment planning activities in Opportunity Zones.

“I applaud Virginia’s community leaders for their efforts to redevelop neighborhoods, create jobs and build healthy communities,” said Cosmo Servidio, EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator. “I’m hopeful that the environmental assessments and redevelopment planning made possible by EPA’s Brownfields grants will boost interest and bring additional investments to your revitalization plans.”

The Virginia Brownfields projects announced today include:

The Town of Bluefield will receive $600,000 to conduct 20 environmental site assessments, prepare eight cleanup plans and a downtown revitalization plan for Bluefield.  Grant funds also will be used to prepare three endangered species or cultural resources surveys and conduct site reuse assessments and community involvement. Coalition partners are the City of Bluefield and the Bluefield Industrial Development Authority.

The City of Danville will receive $300,000 to conduct environmental assesments in the River District and the Schoolfield area. The White Mill, the Long Mill parcels, and Schoolfield sites are a priority for assessments. Grant funds also will be used to update the White Mill, Schoolfield, and riverfront park redevelopment plans, prepare a Long Mill redevelopment concept and conduct community outreach activities.

The LENOWISCO Planning District Commission, which includes Lee, Wise, Dickenson and Scott Counties,  will receive $600,000 to conduct environmental assessments, complete a cleanup plan, and develop reuse plans for sites along the Powell River Trail North abandoned railroad corridor, on abandoned mine land properties, and at seven former grade school properties in Clintwood. Priority sites include the Kent Junction Gob Pile and Clintwood High School. The grant will be used to establish a secondary brownfield inventory and conduct community outreach. Coalition partners are the Lonesome Pine Regional Industrial Facility Authority and Dickenson County.

The City of Martinsville will receive $300,000 to conduct environmental assessments and create three redevelopment plans focusing on priority sites located in the Uptown Martinsville neighborhood: the Rives Theater, Chief Tassel Building, and Sara Lee Apparel plant. Grant funds also will be used to develop a GIS-based brownfields site inventory and conduct community outreach activities.

The City of Richmond will receive $600,000 to conduct enviornmental assessments of sites in the Northside and Southside areas of the city.  The City will also use the grant funding to prepare a brownfields inventory, develop six cleanup plans, and conduct community engagement activities. The Coalition partners are Henrico County and project:HOMES, a non-profit organization focused on safe and affordable housing in Central Virginia.

The Town of Vinton will receive $300,000 to conduct environmental assessments in four areas: the Route 24 /Washington Avenue/Gus Nicks Boulevard area; the Route 634/Virginia Avenue/Hardy Road area; Pollard Street; and the Cleveland and Jackson Avenues area.  Grant funds will also be used to develop a GIS-based brownfields inventory, prioritize sites, develop three cleanup plans, and support community outreach activities.

The City of Williamsburg will receive $600,000 to conduct environmental assessments in the Edge area on the eastern side of the city, the unincorporated community of Grove in James City County, and the Lightfoot and Tabb Lakes areas. Grant funds will also be used to develop six remediation/redevelopment plans, prepare a brownfields database, prioritize sites for assessment, and support community engagement activities. Coalition partners are James City County, York County, and the Greater Williamsburg Partnership.

Grants awarded by EPA’s Brownfield 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.
Brownfields grants have been shown to:

* Increase Local Tax Revenue: A study of 48 brownfields 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 brownfields sites increased between 5% and 15% following cleanup.

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 U.S.   As of May 2019, under the EPA Brownfields Program 30,153 properties have been assessed, and 86,131 acres of idle land have been made ready for productive use. In addition, communities have been able to use Brownfields grants to leverage 150,120 jobs and more than $28 billion of public and private funding.

In 2018 Congress reauthorized the statutory authority for the Brownfields Program. The reauthorization included changes to the program to expand the list of entities eligible for Brownfields grants, increase the limit of individual Brownfields cleanup grants to $500,000, and add grant authority for Multipurpose grants. These important changes will help communities address and cleanup more complex brownfield sites.

The 2019 National Brownfields Training Conference will be held December 11-13 in Los Angeles, California.  Offered every two years, this conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing formerly utilized commercial and industrial properties. EPA cosponsors this event with the International City/County Management Association.

List of all of the FY 2019 Applicants Selected for funding: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/applicants-selected-fy19-brownfields-multipurpose-assessment-and-cleanup-grants.

For more on the Brownfields Grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types-brownfields-grant-funding.

For more on EPA’s Brownfields Program: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields.

For more on the 2019 National Brownfields Training Conference: https://www.brownfields2019.org

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