EPA awards $800,000 to Washington County to assess and clean up contaminated properties
Part of $2.1 Million of Brownfields Funds for Wisconsin
WASHINGTON COUNTY, Wisc. – (May 6, 2020) Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the selection of Washington County for $800,000 to assess and clean up contaminated properties under the Brownfields program. Under President Trump’s Administration, EPA has delivered approximately $287 million in Brownfield grants directly to communities and nonprofits for cleanup and redevelopment, job creation, and economic development through the award of over 948 grants.
“These communities are ready to move forward with redevelopment, they just lacked the funding to take that next step,” said EPA Regional Administrator Kurt Thiede. “EPA’s Brownfields grants help jump-start the process by providing support for assessments and cleanups.”
“The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, communities and tribal nations across the state have made excellent use of EPA brownfields funding to ensure investigation, cleanup and reuse of brownfields across Wisconsin,” said DNR Secretary Preston D. Cole. “These three new awards will allow this essential land recycling work to continue in Wisconsin. These funds fill a gap for properties where exciting new uses are possible once historic contamination is addressed.”
“I was pleased to hear that the Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a Brownfields grant to Washington County. For over twenty-five years, the Brownfields and Land Revitalization Program has been a vital resource for community redevelopment and improvement,” said U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner.
Nationwide, this year, the agency is announcing the selection of 155 grants for communities and tribes totaling over $65.6 million in EPA brownfields funding the agency’s Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grant Programs. These funds will aid under-served and economically disadvantaged communities, including neighborhoods located in Opportunity Zones, in assessing and cleaning up abandoned industrial and commercial properties. An Opportunity Zone is an economically-distressed community where new investment, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment. Of the 151 total communities selected, 118 of these communities can potentially assess or clean up brownfield sites in census tracts designated in these zones. In addition, nearly 30% of the communities selected today will receive brownfields funding for the first time.
The three Wisconsin communities that will receive a total of $2,100,000 in EPA Brownfield awards are: Brillion, $500,000; Green Bay, $800,000; Washington County, $800,000.
“Every brownfield redeveloped allows us to revitalize our communities with new workforce housing, hotel accommodations, commercial properties or other job creating businesses while preserving farmland and eliminating eyesores. Due to these projects having more regulatory compliance issues, brownfield projects likely would not happen without assistance. For this reason, $800,000 of revolving loan funds which will support our brownfields program is very exciting. We look forward to continuing our successful redevelopment work with our local governments, the US EPA, Wisconsin DNR and Economic Development Washington County,” said Joshua Schoemann, County Executive, Washington County.
EPA has selected Washington County for a Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund Coalition Grant. The grant will be used to capitalize a revolving loan fund from which Washington County will provide loans and subgrants to support cleanup activities. Grant funds also will be used to market the revolving loan fund program. RLF activities initially will focus on revitalization activities in the northern downtown area of the City of Hartford, and the north Milwaukee River area and south Eisenbahn Trail area of the City of West Bend. Funds may also be used in the five other coalition municipalities. Coalition partners include the Cities of Hartford and West Bend, and the Villages of Germantown, Jackson, Kewaskum, Slinger, and Richfield.
Grants awarded by EPA’s Brownfields 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 are 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.
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 United States. EPA’s Brownfields Program began in 1995 and has provided nearly $1.6 billion in brownfield grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return blighted properties to productive reuse. To date, brownfields investments have leveraged more than $31 billion in cleanup and redevelopment. Over the years, the relatively small investment of federal funding, from both public and private sources, leveraged more than 160,000 jobs.
The next National Brownfields Training Conference will be held on April 26-30, 2021, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Offered every two years, this conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing former commercial and industrial properties. EPA co-sponsors this event with the International City/County Management Association.
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
For more information about EPA’s role in Opportunity Zones: https://www.epa.gov/opportunity-zones
For information on the studies related to the Brownfields Program’s environmental and economic benefits: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-program-environmental-and-economic-benefits