News Releases from Region 05
EPA Announces the Selection of 2 communities to Receive $1 Million in Funding for Brownfields Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup Grants to Address Contaminated Properties in the Greater Chicago Metropolitan Area
For Immediate Release: No. 19-OPA035
CHICAGO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing that the city of Waukegan and the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission were selected to receive grant awards totaling $1,000,000 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. Forty percent of the communities selected for funding will receive assistance for the first time.
“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.”
“Many communities are ready to move forward with redevelopment, they just lack the funding to get started,” said EPA Regional Administrator Cathy Stepp. “Our Brownfields grants can jump-start the process and provide much-needed support to begin the assessment and cleanup process.”
The projects selected for funding include:
- City of Waukegan – will finish remediation of the former Fansteel property, which was started by a prior owner. Contaminated soils will be safely removed and other environmental risk managed. When cleanup is completed the city will begin work to bring a mixed-use development with housing, retail, and park space to this site.
- Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission – continues EPA’s long-term assistance for economic redevelopment in the Calumet Region. Properties in Gary, Hammond, and East Chicago will be investigated for environmental contamination that can be a barrier to the reuse of an abandon factory or commercial building. This award will be the twelfth grant to promote brownfield redevelopment and job training to a city or not-for-profit organization in Lake County.
“I am excited by this announcement and what this grant means for Waukegan. This will allow for the final cleanup of a long-vacant and contaminated industrial site, opening it up for future redevelopment opportunities on our lakefront,” said Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham. “This investment is a key turning point for this property, and I believe that it will be a huge catalyst that will help to further our goal of making Waukegan the primary destination for arts, culture and recreation in Northern Illinois.”
“This new funding helps accomplish key goals within Ignite The Region: Northwest Indiana's Strategy for Economic Transformation, and is an important tool to advance NIRPC's newly adopted regional plan, NWI 2050. We’re very grateful to have EPA continue to invest in our region and our new coalition with the RDA and the Northwest Indiana Forum, continuing the drive to make Northwest Indiana an attractive and clean place to do business and grow a regional economy,” said Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) Executive Director Ty Warner.
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 149 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.
List 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.
More on the 2019 Brownfields Conference: https://www.brownfields2019.org.