EPA awards 14 Brownfields grants to Illinois; 11 to Rockford/Freeport area
The Rockford area has been awarded a total of $2.2 million in federal Brownfields grants, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5. The city of Rockford will receive $1 million, with Freeport, Loves Park and Winnebago County each receiving $400,000.
Other Illinois communities receiving Brownfields grants include Blue Island, Chicago Heights and the Tri-City Regional Port District in southwestern Illinois. Each grant is for $200,000.
Brownfields are abandoned or underused sites where expansion, redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence of a hazardous substance. Some brownfield success stories include the conversion of industrial waterfronts to riverfront parks, landfills to golf courses, rail corridors to recreational trails and gas stations to housing.
“EPA’s Brownfields program is an environmental success story, but it’s also an economic success story,” said Mary A. Gade, EPA Region 5 administrator. “These grants are helping local communities reclaim abandoned properties and make them productive again.”
Rockford has received $1.5 million in federal Brownfields funds since 1999. The additional $1 million announced today involves two types of grants. The city will get $400,000 in assessment grants, which are used to inventory, characterize and assess brownfield sites contaminated by hazardous substances or petroleum. The grants also provide funds for planning and community outreach activities. Rockford will also receive $600,000 in cleanup grants, used to clean up contamination at three sites and move them closer to re-use.
The federal funds compliment the state of Illinois’ River Edge Redevelopment Initiative efforts in Rockford. The initiative designates redevelopment zones eligible to receive tax credits, exemptions and potential new state brownfields grant funding to support cleanup and redevelopment along the Rock River. One potential project involves a man-made whitewater canoeing and kayaking course on the Rock River. The course is projected as a possible competition venue should Chicago become host city for the 2016 Olympic Games. Other River Edge development efforts involve commercial and retail space.
Freeport has previously received $650,000 in federal Brownfields grants. The city will use the new $400,000 in assessment funds to continue its focus on the redevelopment of brownfield sites on the East Side and in the Rawleigh Corridor.
Loves Park and Winnebago County were both awarded two grants, one for the assessment of hazardous substance sites and a second for petroleum sites. Loves Park plans as many as 40 assessments, while Winnebago County expects to conduct 31 assessments.
Elsewhere in Illinois, Blue Island was awarded a hazardous substances grant to conduct a citywide brownfield inventory and prioritize sites in areas targeted for transit-oriented development. Chicago Heights will receive a grant to perform six site assessments for hazardous substances. The Tri-City Regional Port District will receive a grant to inventory brownfield sites in the Illinois Route 3 corridor, which includes Venice, Madison and Granite City, as well as Chouteau and Nameoki townships.
To date, EPA’s Brownfields assistance has leveraged more than $9.6 billion in cleanup and redevelopment, helped create more than 43,029 jobs and resulted in the assessment of more than 10,504 properties and the cleanup of 180 properties.
This year, 202 applicants nationally were selected to receive 294 grants. EPA will award $70.7 million, which will be used for:
189 assessment grants totaling $36.8 million to conduct site assessment and planning for eventual cleanup at one or more brownfield sites or as part of a community-wide effort.
92 cleanup grants totaling $17.9 million for grant recipients to carry out cleanup activities at brownfield sites they own.
13 revolving loan fund grants totaling $16 million for communities to capitalize a revolving loan fund and to provide subgrants to clean up brownfields. Revolving loan funds are generally used to provide low-interest loans for brownfield cleanups.
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