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EPA Selects Pulaski Co., Ark., to Receive $300,000 for Brownfields Cleanup and Assessment

Funds are part of $65.6 million awarded nationwide

05/08/2020

Media contacts: Jennah Durant or Joe Hubbard, R6Press@epa.gov or 214 665-2200

DALLAS – (May 8, 2020) Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing that Pulaski County, Arkansas, was selected to receive a Brownfields assessment grant for $300,000. The grant is part of $65.6 million given nationwide to assess and clean up contaminated properties under the agency’s 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 948 grants.

“A Brownfields grant from EPA can become true investments in communities by helping to bring abandoned or contaminated properties back into the local economy,” said Regional Administrator Ken McQueen. “Pulaski County will put their funds to great use on a variety of properties, and the results will benefit the entire community.”

“I congratulate Judge Barry Hyde and his team for getting the abandoned VA hospital and hotel on E. Roosevelt in Little Rock back to economic use. This project, located in a Qualified Opportunity Zone, has been a long-standing goal of our community, and will help stimulate development in this corridor,” said Congressman French Hill (AR-2). “This redevelopment can attract more investment and more opportunity for Pulaski County, improving property values, creating jobs, and generating more local revenue.”

“Pulaski County has enjoyed great success partnering with EPA to facilitate redevelopment of aging and distressed properties,” said Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde. “I’m proud of our Community Services Department in winning this award. All the credit goes to them.”

In Pulaski County, community-wide grant funds will be used to inventory sites and conduct 18 Phase I and 10 Phase II environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used for community involvement and cleanup planning activities. Assessment activities will focus on the city of Little Rock’s 21st Street Corridor and East End, which are located in Qualified Opportunity Zones. Priority sites include a former Veterans Administration hospital and an abandoned seven-story hotel.

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.

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: [website]

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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About EPA Region 6: https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/epa-region-6-south-central  

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