It is a familiar scene—an abandoned gas station, a dilapidated manufacturing facility, an empty or run-down warehouse. The site is possibly known in your community as an “eyesore,” and could even be considered a hazard. Now imagine that site transformed into a bustling public park, a shared community garden, a revitalized commercial space, or a thriving new business. How? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields Program helps communities of all sizes address environmentally challenged properties while cultivating economic development. The program funding creates opportunities for municipalities, government, and nonprofit organizations to accomplish revitalization within their communities by identifying, assessing, and remediating properties.
Brownfield grant funding can create positive changes within communities by addressing health concerns, socioeconomic issues, and by jump-starting revitalization efforts. Performing an assessment of a brownfield property often helps remove the environmental stigma which may loom over idle, vacant, or abandoned properties. An assessment provides property owners or developers with historical and environmental information to determine if the site is contaminated and, if there is an issue, can identify what is necessary for redevelopment and at what cost.
For the program to work, communities must have a desire to make improvements, a need for grant funding, and qualified properties to assess. Each year since 1995, the federal government has allocated millions of dollars to fund the program, which offers various grant options to identify and assess sites throughout a community, clean up specific properties, or assist in the funding of redevelopment planning.
Assessing and remediating a brownfield site can lead to reduced crime rates and allow for new development, helping residents feel safer. Redeveloped properties may also create more walkable communities, helping residents who might not have access to vehicles have safer access to schools, hospitals, and grocery stores. An additional benefit is the ability for a municipality to generate funds through an increase in local taxes. This growth and renewal can create jobs. Two recent studies* indicated cleaning up brownfield sites can lead to a 5-15 percent increase in value of properties located 1.29 miles from a site, as well as a $29-$97 million tax revenue increase for municipalities one year after clean up.
Is your community a good fit for the Brownfields Program? Terracon’s team has helped communities of all sizes evaluate possible projects, and when suitable, assisted with development of a successful brownfields program. From grant writing through project implementation and property redevelopment, Terracon can assist you every step of the way. (*source: epa.gov/brownfields)
MAKING POSITIVE IMPACTS TO COMMUNITIES ACROSS AMERICA
By August 1, 2019, the Brownfields Program assessed 28,697 properties, leveraged 144,800 jobs, and $27.5 billion, and enabled 80,952 acres of land to be readied for reuse. (source: epa.gov/brownfields)
Belinda Richard is Terracon’s national brownfields program manager. She has 22 years of environmental experience, with the last 15 years dedicated to working in the brownfields program.