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EPA Announces the Selection of 4 Communities to Receive $1.6 Million in Funding for Brownfields Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup Grants to Address Contaminated Properties in the Cleveland Area

06/05/2019
Contact Information: 
Rachel Bassler (Bassler.rachel@epa.gov)
312-886-7159

For Immediate Release: No. 19-OPA033

CHICAGO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing that four communities have been selected to receive grant awards totaling $1,611,000  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:

  • Ashtabula County Port Authority – to conduct environmental investigations and prepare cleanup plans for properties at the Lake Erie waterfront and along Route 20 between Geneva and Conneaut. The Port Authority’s previous Brownfield grant led to private investments totaling nearly $400,000 and the creation of 35 jobs.
     
  • City of Barberton – to investigate the environmental conditions of old, industrial properties along the Tuscarawras River and abandon filling stations and repair shops near downtown. Barberton has received six previous Brownfield grants. The award in 2015 supported investigations at sites where over $17 million has been invested and 130 jobs created or retained.|
     
  • Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation – to assess environmental conditions at properties in Midtown Cleveland, East Cleveland, and West Creek in Brooklyn Heights. Brownfield grants have been awarded to local governments in Cuyahoga County since 2000. Investments totaling $11 million have been made at sites previously investigated by CCLRC.
     
  • Richland County Land Reutilization Corporation – to eliminate contamination at the former Swan Cleaners building in Mansfield’s Imagination District. The grant will be used to abate asbestos inside the building and remove contaminated soils behind the building. The contaminants were identified during environmental investigations also supported by the Brownfields program. After cleanup, the building will house retail space as well as studios and storage for the Renaissance Theatre and a new children’s museum.

“The city has been very successful in leveraging EPA Brownfield grant dollars with a variety of public and private funding sources to create jobs in Barberton,” said City of Barberton’s Director of Planning and Community Development Joseph M. Stefan. “Keeping this momentum of Brownfield redevelopment and job creation moving forward is extremely important for our community and would not be possible without this funding.”

“The Cuyahoga Land Bank is honored to have been selected for an EPA Brownfields Assessment Grant. This grant, as with two prior awarded grants, will enable us to identify brownfield sites throughout Cuyahoga County and begin the process of advancing these sites towards revitalization,” said President and General Counsel Gus Frangos. “We greatly appreciate the continued support by EPA of our mission of returning land in Cuyahoga County to productive use.”

“Our mission is to make a positive sustainable impact on our community. EPA funds will be used to remediate a dry cleaner across the street from The Little Buckeye Children’s Museum, Historic Renaissance Theatre and Education Center, collectively known as ‘The Imagination District,’” said Bart Hamilton, Richland County Land Bank, Chairman. “The dry cleaner will be the 4th vacant and abandoned property re-purposed for this cultural and educational hub.”

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.” 

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 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.

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