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MADISON, WISC. (JUNE 5, 2019) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing that 149 communities across America including Madison, Wisconsin, have been selected to receive funding for brownfield site revitalization to help local governments redevelop vacant and unused properties, transforming communities and local economies. Madison has been selected for a $300,000 Brownfield grant.
“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 that fall within Opportunity Zones.”
“Many communities are ready to move forward with redevelopment, they just lack the funding to get started,” said EPA Regional Administrator Cathy Stepp. “Our Brownfields grants can jump-start the process and provide much-needed support to begin the assessment and cleanup process.”
This will be the fourth Brownfield grant Madison has received for the investigation or cleanup of environmental contamination at properties throughout the city. Madison’s plans for the latest grant focus on the Wingra Creek area and sites in or near the former Villager Park mall. One of Madison’s previous USEPA grants paid for the removal of 17,000 tons of contaminated fill along East Washington Avenue. On the site now stands a $90 million multi-use building with a grocery store and 250 residential units.
“Madison’s vision for the South Park Street corridor is a vibrant, mixed-use, affordable, transit-oriented neighborhood commercial district,” Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said. “We are working on redeveloping the area for the community that lives and works there. These funds will allow us to identify any site contamination issues that might get in the way of that, so we can focus on building capacity in the area and work on development without displacement.”
Grants awarded by EPA’s Brownfield 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 have been 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.
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.
“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.”
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.
The 2019 National Brownfields Training Conference will be held on December 11-13 in Los Angeles, California. Offered every two years, this conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing formerly utilized commercial and industrial properties. EPA cosponsors this event with the International City/County Management Association.
List of the FY 2019 Applicants Selected for Funding: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/applicants-selected-fy19-brownfields-multipurpose-assessment-and-cleanup-grants.
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.
More on the 2019 Brownfields Conference: https://www.brownfields2019.org.