EPA Announces the Selection of Three Projects in Western New York to Receive $1.4 Million for Brownfields Cleanup and Assessment
The grant awards help underserved communities Build Back Better and address Environmental Justice concerns
NEW YORK – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing that three Western New York communities have been selected to receive a total of $1.4 million to assess and clean up contaminated properties under the agency’s Brownfields Program. Nationwide, 151 communities will receive 154 grant awards totaling $66.5 million in EPA Brownfields funding through its Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup (MAC) Grants.
This funding will support underserved and economically disadvantaged communities across the country in assessing and cleaning up contaminated and abandoned industrial and commercial properties. Approximately 50 percent of selected recipients will be receiving EPA Brownfields Grant funding for the first time and more than 85 percent are located in or serving small communities.
“Cleaning up brownfields helps protect the environment and serves as a catalyst to jumpstart much needed economic growth in Western New York communities, often in historically underserved areas,” said EPA acting Regional Administrator Walter Mugdan. “These grants address decades-old sources of pollution and bring together a broad spectrum of stakeholders who work in concert to make their communities better and more sustainable places to live, work and play.”
The selectees and projects in Western New York are:
- City of Lackawanna ($300,000 assessment grant): Community-wide grant funds will be used to conduct up to 25 environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to support reuse planning and community outreach activities. The target area for this grant is the city’s first ward. Priority sites include several vacant lots and industrial facilities along the Hamburg Turnpike, Ridge Road, and Smokes Creek Corridors, several of which are remnants of the city’s steel industry.
- Niagara County ($300,000 assessment grant): Community-wide grant funds will be used to conduct 21 environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to develop three cleanup plans and support community engagement activities. The target areas for this grant are the cities of Lockport, Niagara Falls, and North Tonawanda. Priority sites include a former hydropower generating facility in Lockport and a heavy equipment storage yard in North Tonawanda.
- City of Rochester ($800,000 multipurpose grant): Grant funds will be used to conduct an environmental site assessment at the Bull’s Head Plaza on West Main Street and an environmental site assessment and cleanup at the 42 York Street property. The mostly vacant Bull’s Head plaza was constructed as an auto-oriented commercial and retail shopping center in the 1950s and is contaminated with chlorinated volatile organic compounds, heavy metals, and semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs). The 42 York Street property was previously developed with residential properties and parking areas; fill material historically deposited on the property is contaminated with heavy metals and SVOCs. The target area is the 185-acre area Bull’s Head neighborhood, a key historic gateway to Rochester that has been a focus of the city’s revitalization efforts with over a decade of community-based revitalization planning. Grant funds also will be used to conduct community outreach activities.
"The City of Lackawanna is grateful to be among the recipients of a 2021 US EPA Brownfield Assessment Grant, continuing our longstanding working partnership with the EPA,” said Lackawanna Mayor Annette Iafallo. “This valuable funding resource will allow Lackawanna to continue moving forward with redeveloping and reconnecting brownfield land with a legacy of world class multi-modal transportation infrastructure from the city’s storied industrial past, which is essential to our strategic plan for attracting new development investments and jobs to Lackawanna.”
Niagara County Legislature Chairwoman Rebecca Wydysh stated: “For over 20 years Niagara County has been a leader in brownfield efforts and the grant award from the federal government will further build upon our progress of assessing brownfield sites throughout the County. By determining the level of contamination, properties can be remediated and returned to productive use creating jobs and new tax revenue.”
Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren said: "As we work together to restore the vitality and prominence of Bull's Head, I am extremely grateful for the Environmental Protection Agency's continued commitment to rebuild and restore this important part of Rochester’s west side. The EPA's award of $800,000 through their Brownfield Grant Program is a critical investment towards our transformative redevelopment at Bull's Head. Together with local resources and the EPA's previous award of $408,000 last year, this historic part of our City is poised for remarkable positive change."
“This federal funding will help our Western New York communities address a legacy of pollution and is great news to New Yorkers living in The City of Rochester, Niagara County, and The City of Lackawanna. This vital funding has the double benefit of eliminating pollution and putting the land back into use for economic development,” said U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer. “I am proud to announce this funding from EPA to address brownfields in Western New York, and I will continue to fight for communities adversely affected by pollution and to preserve Upstate New York’s natural resources.”
“Western New York is still dealing with the remnants of an industrial past that failed to protect the ground, water and air,” said Congressman Brian Higgins. “These EPA investments advance initiatives that continue efforts to ensure neighborhoods are safe, clean and healthy for all residents.”
Congressman Joseph Morelle said: “The Bull’s Head area was once a lively and vibrant part of our community, and this investment is an important step toward restoring this neighborhood as a prominent part of Rochester. I am grateful to the Environmental Protection Agency for their commitment to making critical investments that not only clean up underserved parts of our community, but that can transform Rochester for decades to come.”
Congressman Chris Jacobs said: “I commend the EPA for prioritizing brownfield assessment and cleanup in Western New York. These funds will support the restoration and safe reuse of highly contaminated areas within our communities, bringing new life and prosperity into our region. This is another important step toward revitalizing and rebuilding Western New York.”
Today’s grant announcement includes:
- $8.8 million for 11 Multipurpose Grants, which will provide funding to conduct a range of eligible assessment and cleanup activities at one or more brownfield sites in a target area.
- $42.2 million for 107 Assessment Grants, which will provide funding for brownfield inventories, planning, environmental assessments, and community outreach.
- $15.5 million for 36 Cleanup Grants, which will provide funding to carry out cleanup activities at brownfield sites owned by the recipient.
The list of the fiscal year 2021 applicants selected for funding is available here: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/applicants-selected-fy-2021-brownfields-multipurpose-assessment-and-cleanup-grants
EPA anticipates that it will award the grants once all legal and administrative requirements are satisfied by the selected recipients.
Since its inception in 1995, EPA's Brownfields Program has provided nearly $1.76 billion in grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return them to productive reuse. This has led to significant benefits for communities across the country. For example,
- To date, communities participating in the Brownfields Program have been able to attract more than $34.4 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funding after receiving Brownfields funds. This has led to over 175,500 jobs in cleanup, construction, and redevelopment.
- Based on grant recipient reporting, recipients leveraged on average $20.13 for each EPA Brownfields dollar and 10.3 jobs per $100,000 of EPA Brownfield Grant funds expended on assessment, cleanup, and revolving loan fund cooperative agreements.
- In addition, an academic peer-reviewed study has found that residential properties near brownfield sites increased in value by 5% to 15.2% as a result of cleanup activities.
- Finally, analyzing data near 48 brownfields, EPA found an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional tax revenue for local governments in a single year after cleanup—2 to 7 times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of those brownfield sites.
For more on the Brownfields Grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types-epa-brownfield-grant-funding
For more on EPA’s Brownfields Program: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields