Underserved Twin Cities neighborhoods to benefit from EPA grant

Read the full story from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

A $300,000 federal grant may help pump economic life into some formerly polluted lands in the Twin Cities area. On May 31, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) selected the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to receive $300,000 in funding for brownfields site revitalization. The funds will be used to help assess, cleanup and redevelop vacant and unused properties in underserved neighborhoods in the Twin Cities region.

EPA Gives $3.8M to Help 19 Communities Plan New Uses for Former Brownfield Sites

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has selected 19 communities for approximately $3.8 million in funding to assist with planning for cleanup and reuse of Brownfield sites as part of the Brownfields Area-Wide Planning (AWP) program. Each recipient will receive up to $200,000 to engage their community and conduct planning activities for brownfield site reuse.

The grants will help communities plan improvements such as housing, transportation options, recreation and open space, education and health facilities, social services, renewed infrastructure, increased commerce and employment opportunities.

“The Area-Wide Planning grant program is an innovation initiated by the Obama Administration to empower communities to transform economically and environmentally distressed areas, including communities impacted by manufacturing plant closures, into vibrant future destinations for business, jobs, housing and recreation,” said Mathy Stanislaus, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management. “These grants provide the opportunity for communities to determine for themselves revitalization plans that best meet their vision and needs based on a rigorous analysis of market and infrastructure in a manner that benefits and does not displace long-term residents.”

Assistant Administrator Stanislaus announced the new AWP recipients for funding at a community event in Norfolk, Va.

EPA’S AWP program was modeled after New York State’s Brownfields Opportunity Area (BOA) Program, which was developed by communities – particularly lower income communities – to enable them to drive development that meets their needs without displacing them. Studies have shown that residential property values near brownfields sites that are cleaned up increased between 5 and 15 percent. Data also shows that brownfields clean ups can increase overall property values within a one-mile radius. Preliminary analysis involving 48 brownfields sites shows that an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional tax revenue was generated for local governments in a single year after cleanup.

This year’s selected recipients for funding are:

  • Eastern Maine Development Corporation, Bucksport, Maine
  • City of Providence, R.I.
  •  Isles, Inc., East Trenton, N.J.
  • City of Wilmington, Del.
  • Redevelopment Authority of the City of Harrisburg, Pa.
  • City of Norfolk, Va.
  • University of South Florida, Tampa, Fla.
  • City of Middlesborough, Ky.
  • Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments, Charleston and North Charleston, S.C.
  • Near East Area Renewal, Indianapolis, Ind.
  • Wayne County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, River Rouge, Mich.
  • Lorain County, Lorain, Ohio
  • Port of New Orleans, New Orleans, La.
  • City of Burlington, Iowa
  • Resource Conservation and Development for Northeast Iowa, Inc., Postville, Iowa
  • City of Glenwood Springs, Colo.
  • City of Orem, Utah
  • Trust for Public Land, Los Angeles, Calif.
  • City of Grants Pass, Ore.

More information on the funding recipients: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types-brownfields-grant-funding

To apply for Brownfields Grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/apply-brownfields-grant-funding

More information on the Partnership for Sustainable Communities: http://www.sustainablecommunities.gov/

FY 2017 Brownfields Assessment and Cleanup Grants

Proposals due December 22, 2016.
More information available at https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/apply-brownfields-grant-funding

Assessment Grants (funded over three years)

Community-wide or Site-Specific Applicants: Applicants may apply for up to $200,000 in hazardous substances funding or up to $200,000 in petroleum funding.

Community-wide Applicants: Applicants applying for both hazardous substances funding and petroleum funding may request a combined total up to $300,000; however the request for hazardous substances funding or petroleum funding cannot exceed $200,000 for any one individual type of grant funding. For example, an applicant may apply for $200,000 in hazardous substances funding and $100,000 in petroleum funding.

Assessment Coalition Applicants: Applicants may apply for up to $600,000 in hazardous substances funding and/or petroleum funding.

Cleanup Grants (funded over three years)

Applicants can apply for up to $200,000 per brownfield site and can submit up to three separate, site-specific cleanup proposals.

City of second chance soils

Read the full story from the American Society of Agronomy.

On the South Side of Chicago, East 87th Street ends in a gentle curve more suited to a suburban neighborhood than a gritty industrial area. A few steps further and you’re at Lake Michigan’s shoreline. Welcome to Steelworkers Park.

Once the world’s largest steel working mill, the property was literally built from the waste product of the steel industry: slag. This hard, gravelly scrap was dumped to fill in the natural marsh along the lakeshore. When U.S. Steel’s South Works closed in 1992, the deep and unforgiving slag infill remained.

The “City of Big Shoulders” found itself the owner of an abandoned slag brownfield along Lake Michigan’s shoreline, less than 10 miles from downtown. The area is also part of the Calumet Region—a confluence of three rivers into Lake Michigan. Chicago’s 1909 vision to keep the shoreline “forever free and clear for all to enjoy” had a second chance—if it was affordable.

Enter the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. Along with the Chicago Park District, they were asked to evaluate the site and demonstrate the feasibility of rehabilitating the forbidding slag surface into parkland.

Lakhwinder Hundal, Tom Granato, and rest of the Water Reclamation District team took on the challenge. With a size of 511 football fields, the entire property would require over 63,000 dump trucks of topsoil. The cost would be prohibitive—and take good soil away from its home.

The team had a better plan. For this second-chance site, they gave resources already available, biosolids and dredged sediments, a second life. This re-purposing meant what could have been an expense was instead a blessing…

Read more about Hundal’s work in Journal of Environmental Quality. For more on confronting the challenges of urban soils, see https://www.soils.org/discover-soils/soils-in-the-city.

Developing Green Job Opportunities in Brownfields-Impacted Communities

Read the full post at EPA Connect.

The first seeds of brownfields job training—and of the brownfields program itself—emerged in the early 1990s, reflecting our growing concern for environmental equity (now known as environmental justice). Back then, we provided funds for the assessment and cleanup of abandoned and potentially contaminated sites through brownfields grants. The funds brought job opportunities to those communities where the assessments and cleanups were taking place, but there was one problem. The jobs were going to environmental professionals from other cities because, more times than not, local residents lacked the environmental training these jobs demanded.

How a Polluted Industrial Site Became Amsterdam’s Most Interesting Neighborhood

Read the full story in CityLab.

Just across the River IJ from central Amsterdam’s waterfront sits an old industrial area that once was left for dead.

The area known as Buiksloterham was home to a Fokker airplane factory, a Shell oil laboratory, a large shipbuilding industry and other manufacturing. Over time, most of the companies here either died or moved out of the area. They left behind a waterfront wasteland where the soil in some areas was polluted. After years of hoping for an industrial revival that never quite came, city leaders concluded about 10 years ago that it was time for Buiksloterham to move on.

That’s when things got interesting—and when Buiksloterham became a model for any city wrestling with what to do with a decaying industrial zone.