EPA announces $3.4 million in Brownfields Grants for Virginia
EPA designates a total of $64.6 million for Brownfields nationwide
PHILADELPHIA (June 5, 2019) – Today, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing $3.4 million to support seven Brownfields projects in Virginia. These are seven of the 149 communities selected to receive 151 grant awards totaling $64,623,553 million in EPA Brownfields funding through our Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup (MAC) Grant Programs. These funds will aid under-served and economically disadvantaged communities in opportunity zones and other parts of the country in assessing and cleaning up abandoned industrial and commercial properties.
“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.”
The seven Brownfields projects in Virginia include:
The Town of Bluefield in Mercer County will receive will receive $600,000 to conduct environmental site assessments on properties in the Town of Bluefield, Virginia, and the City of Bluefield, West Virginia. Grant funds also will be used to prepare three endangered species or cultural resources surveys; eight cleanup plans; a downtown revitalization plan for the Town of Bluefield; six site reuse assessments; and a community involvement plan; and support other community involvement activities. Coalition partners are the City of Bluefield and the Bluefield Industrial Development Authority.
The City of Danville will receive $300,000 to conduct site assessments in the River District and the Schoolfield area. Grant funds also will be used to update the White Mill, Schoolfield, and Riverfront Park redevelopment plans, prepare a Long Mill redevelopment concept, develop a community involvement plan, and conduct community outreach activities.
The LENOWISCO Planning District Commission, which serves Lee, Wise, Dickenson and Scott Counties, will receive $600,000 to conduct site assessments that focus on sites along the Powell River Trail North abandoned railroad corridor, abandoned mine land properties, and seven former grade school properties in the Town of Clintwood. Priority sites include the Kent Junction Gob Pile and Clintwood High School. Grant funds will also will be used to establish a secondary brownfield inventory, develop two reuse plans, and conduct community outreach activities. Coalition partners are the Lonesome Pine Regional Industrial Facility Authority and Dickenson County.
The City of Martinsville will receive $300,000 to conduct environmental site assessments that focus on priority sites in the Uptown Martinsville neighborhood: The Rives Theater, Chief Tassel Building, and Sara Lee Apparel plant. Grant funds also will be used to develop three redevelopment plans, develop a GIS-based brownfields site inventory and database, prioritize sites, and conduct community outreach activities.
The City of Richmond will receive $600,000 to conduct environmental site assessments that focus on the Northside and Southside areas of the city. Grant funds also will be used to prepare a brownfields inventory, develop six cleanup plans, and conduct community engagement activities. 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 in Roanoke County will receive $300,000 to conduct environmental site assessments that target four areas: 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 also will be used to develop a GIS-based brownfields site inventory and database, prioritize sites, develop three cleanup plans, and support community outreach activities.
The City of Williamsburg will receive $600,000 to conduct environmental site assessments that target 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 of both types also will be used to develop six remediation/redevelopment plans, prepare a brownfields inventory and 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. For example, 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.
One hundred and eight communities selected for grants this year have identified sites or targeted areas in census tracts designated as federal Opportunity Zones. An Opportunity Zone is an economically-distressed community where new investment, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment.
“I am truly excited to join as EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announces over $64 million in Brownfield funding,” said Scott Turner, Executive Director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council. “The Brownfields grant program is a tremendous vehicle for bringing real revitalization and transformation to the distressed communities of America. As the Executive Director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council I am pleased that EPA continues to support the Council and the President’s work in this area. In fact, of the 151 communities selected for these grants, 108 will benefit communities with Opportunity Zones. I look forward to seeing the impact that these grants will have on neighborhoods and citizens across the country.”
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 on 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.
For a list of all the grants selected for funding: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/applicants-selected-fy19-brownfields-multipurpose-assessment-and-cleanup-grants
For the booklet “Brownfields: Properties with New Purpose, Improving Local Economies in Communities with Brownfield Sites”: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2019-06/documents/bf_booklet.pdf
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
More on the 2019 Brownfields Conference: https://www.brownfields2019.org