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EPA awards Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission $600,000 to clean up former industrial sites in Columbus

Part of $2.4 Million for Brownfields Cleanups in Ohio

05/06/2020
Contact Information: 
Francisco Arcaute (arcaute.francisco@epa.gov)
312-886-7613, 312-898-2042 cell

For Immediate Release No. 20-OPA-044

EPA awards Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission $600,000 to clean up former industrial sites in Columbus

Part of $2.4 Million for Brownfields Cleanups in Ohio 

COLUMBUS, Ohio – (May 6, 2020) Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing that the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission will receive $600,000 to assess and clean up contaminated properties under the Agency’s Brownfield’s 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 jumpstart the process by providing support for assessments and cleanups.”

“This funding is important to help clean up former industrial sites in Ohio,” said Ohio EPA Director Laurie A. Stevenson. “These cleanups will help return these sites to productive use.”

“I am pleased that Administrator Wheeler has awarded these vital Brownfields grants to help clean up sites across Ohio so that they can be redeveloped for use in the future,” said U.S. Senator Rob Portman. “By working with state, local, and community partners, these grants will help create jobs and economic growth while also protecting the environment and public health in our communities.”

“Grants like these help not only to revitalize our infrastructure, but help to grow and strengthen our regional economy,” said U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers (OH-15).“I’m grateful for EPA’s support for the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission as it works to utilize existing sites and develop future sites to foster jobs and economic growth in Ohio’s 15th District.”

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.

EPA also awarded $475,000 to the Defiance County Land Reutilization Corporation, $600,000 to the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation, and $800,000 to the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority, bringing a total of more than $2.4 million in federal brownfield funds to Ohio.

“As Central Ohio approaches 3 million people by 2050, many of our communities are taking advantage of existing land and infrastructure – creating unique, mixed-use spaces that provide more choices for residents,” said William Murdock, Executive Director, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission. “Building our communities in a way that provides more housing and mobility options is good for our wallets, health, and the environment. But redevelopment and economic revitalization often starts with a need to assess contaminated sites, and that’s what this grant will allow us to do.”

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission will use EPA funds to conduct environmental site assessments, inventory and prioritize sites, develop cleanup plans, and support community outreach activities. Assessment activities will focus on three areas in Columbus: Hilltop in the West Broad Corridor; Linden in the Northeast Corridor; and Rickenbacker in the Southeast Corridor. All three target areas lie within Qualified Opportunity Zones. Priority sites include the vacant Westland Mall, a former retail distribution center, and a 100-acre vacant site historically occupied by an Air Force base that housed munitions bunker and target ranges. Coalition partners are the Central Ohio Transportation Authority and Franklin County.

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.

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 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.

List of the FY 2020 applicants selected for funding:

https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/applicants-selected-fy-2020-brownfields-assessment-revolving-loan-fund-and-cleanup-0

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

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