EPA Announces the Selection of 3 Wisconsin Communities to Receive $1.4 Million in Funding for Brownfields Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup Grants to Address Contaminated Properties in Green Bay, Oshkosh and Sheboygan
For Immediate Release: No. 19-OPA036
CHICAGO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing that 149 communities across America including Green Bay, Oshkosh and Calumet County have been selected to receive funding for brownfield site revitalization to help local governments redevelop vacant and unused properties, transforming communities and local economies. Calumet County has been selected for a $300,000 Brownfield grant; Green Bay for a $300,000 Brownfield grant; the Green Bay Redevelopment Authority for a Brownfield $500,000 grant; and the City of Oshkosh for a $300,000 Brownfield grant.
“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 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:
- Calumet County – to investigate environmental conditions at properties targeted for redevelopment. Environmental assessments are a critical part of the redevelopment process because even low levels of contamination can prevent a site from being sold or reused. The county intends to focus its work on properties in Chilton, New Holstein, and Brillion. Plans for the sites assessed include developing new, sustainable manufacturing companies, supporting existing manufacturing by developing new, affordable housing, and expanding retail opportunities in the county’s cities and towns.
- Green Bay – will use the Brownfield grant, the fourth it has received, to determine if properties targeted for redevelopment have low levels of contamination which could halt progress. Green Bay plans to focus this work at sites on or near Broadway, Velp Avenue, and University Avenue. Green Bay has achieved great success with its previous Brownfield grants. Redevelopment at sites assessed and cleaned up in the downtown and shipyard areas have contributed to private investments of over $125 million and creation of over 1,600 jobs.
- The Green Bay Redevelopment Authority – to clean up of the city’s shipyard property. The grant is part of a $1.2 million remediation effort to cap soils with low levels of contamination and make the property safe for reuse. Plans for the cleaned up property include a new recreation area, an energy-efficient building for corporate headquarters, and new housing.
- The City of Oshkosh – to investigate the properties in the City Center district to determine if low contamination exists which could slow or prevent redevelopment. The city intends to conduct the environmental assessments at former industrial properties and a vacant hotel building. This will be the third Brownfield grant awarded to Oshkosh. An earlier grant funded cleanup of the Mercury Marine property contributed to new development valued at $4.4 million and the creation of nearly 20 jobs.
“Calumet County is very pleased to receive our first Communitywide Brownfield Assessment Grant, and we appreciate EPA’s recognition of the importance we place on cleaning up contaminated properties by awarding us this grant,” said County Administrator Todd Romenesko. “This project will support work within the county to identify and clean up contaminated properties. These efforts are consistent with the needs of our local community partners, will enhance our local economy, and will help facilitate critical quality of life improvements in impacted areas.”
“Both the City and Redevelopment Authority of Green Bay are honored that the EPA will be continuing to invest in the revitalization of our community,” said Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich. “With EPA’s assistance, we have turned our most challenged sites into some of our greatest assets, encouraging greater levels of private investment and improving quality of life for our residents. With this continued support, we can move forward with the $18 million redevelopment of Green Bay’s 15-acre Shipyard site—a project that which will create over 100 jobs, provide many unique public recreational amenities, and is expected to stimulate an additional $30 million in increased area property values over the next decade.”
“The City of Oshkosh is pleased to accept this grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. These funds will be used to identify potential environmental issues on properties to be acquired for redevelopment to determine the degree and extent of the impact on the community and their possible threat to human health and the environment,” said City Manager Mark Rohloff.
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.