This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) selected 149 communities across the country including five in Georgia to receive funding for brownfield site revitalization to help local governments redevelop vacant and unused properties, transforming communities and local economies.
“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.”
“Brownfields Assessment and Cleanup grants provide communities with an opportunity to convert contaminated sites into community assets that will attract jobs, encourage partnerships and achieve broader economic development outcomes,” said Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker.
The following communities in Georgia were selected to receive grant funding for community-wide Brownfields assessment activities and cleanup planning:
- College Park Business and Industrial Development Authority, College Park – $500,000 cleanup grant will be used to clean up the 117-acre College Park Golf Course at 3711 Fairway Drive. The cleanup site operated as a golf course since the 1920s with the area north of the golf course lake used as a shooting range for the College Park Police from the 1970s until the early 1990s. The site is contaminated with methane gas from organic fill applied at the shooting range, pesticides, and inorganic contaminants. Grant funds also will be used to conduct community involvement activities, including one design charrette.
- City of College Park – $300,000 assessment grant ($150,000 for hazardous substances and $150,000 for petroleum) will be used to conduct 16 Phase I and five Phase II environmental site assessments. Grant funds of both types also will be used to develop five cleanup plans and five site reuse plans, update an existing brownfield site inventory and community involvement plan, prioritize sites, and conduct community involvement activities. The target area for the grant is the City’s Tax Allocation District #1 that is composed of downtown College Park, the Convention Center area, and Airport City.
- City of Columbus (Columbus Consolidated Government) – $500,000 cleanup grant ($209,250 for hazardous substances and $290,750 for petroleum) will be used to clean up the former Georgia State Farmers Market located at 318 10th Avenue. The 14.67-acre site was developed as the Georgia State Farmers Market in the mid-1950s and served the Columbus Metropolitan Area. The site has 10 dilapidated buildings including a restaurant, offices, warehouses, covered loading areas, and a vehicle maintenance building. It is contaminated with inorganic materials, metals, and petroleum compounds.
- City of East Point – $300,000 assessment grant ($205,000 for hazardous substances and $95,000 for petroleum) will be used to conduct 14 Phase I and five Phase II environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to develop five cleanup plans, conduct additional planning activities such as economic analyses and alternative reuse planning, develop a community involvement plan, and support other community outreach activities. Assessment activities will focus on the city’s Jefferson Park and River Park neighborhoods, which contain three priority brownfield sites: the Atlanta Utility Works site, the former General Chemical site, and the former Owens Corning Manufacturing Plant.
- River Valley Regional Commission – $600,000 assessment grant ($332,956 for hazardous substances and $247,044 for petroleum) will be used to conduct 12 Phase I and nine Phase II environmental site assessments and develop five cleanup plans. Community-wide petroleum grant funds will be used to conduct 10 Phase I and six Phase II environmental site assessments and develop four cleanup plans. Grant funds of both types also will be used to conduct community outreach activities. Assessment activities will focus on priority sites in the cities of Americus, Cordele, and Vienna, and in small rural farming towns in the greater River Valley region. Coalition partners are the Crisp-Cordele Industrial Development Authority, the Macon County Development Authority, the Sumter County Development Authority, and the city of Vienna.
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. College Park, East Point and the River Valley Regional Commission were selected to receive Brownfields grants and have sites designated in an Opportunity Zone.
“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.”
Overview of the Funds Being Announced Today
The communities selected for brownfields funding this year include:
- Geographically diverse set of communities:
- 149 communities across the country in all 10 EPA regions.
- Diverse types of communities:
- 19% of selected proposals are in urban areas,
- 81% of selected proposals are in non-urban areas (population of 100,000 or less),
- 40% of the grants will go to the smallest of communities with populations of 10,000 or less.
- And, new communities that have never received brownfields funding before:
- 40% of selected communities are receiving brownfields funding for the first time.
Brownfields grants have been shown to increase local tax revenue and residential property values. 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. Another study found that property values of homes near revitalized brownfields sites increased between 5% and 15% following cleanup.
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.
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.