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EPA awards Brownfields grants to 16 Michigan communities and organizations

Release Date: 05/14/2007
Contact Information: Mick Hans, 312-353-5050, hans.mick@epa.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
No. 07-OPA079

(Chicago, Ill. - May 14, 2007) Sixteen Michigan governmental organizations have been awarded a total of $5,594,000 in federal Brownfields grants, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5.

The city of Detroit received a total of $800,000 in grants while the city of Manistee received a total of $394,000. Those awarded $400,000 in grants included the city of Alma, Branch County, Mecosta County, Tuscola County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, Wayne County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, Osceola County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, Jackson Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and Macatawa Area Coordinating Council of Western Michigan. Receiving $200,000 grants were the city of Buchanan, Clare County, Leelanau County, Van Buren County, Grand Traverse County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and St. Joseph County Economic Development Corporation.

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."

There are three types of federal Brownfields grants. Assessment grants are used to inventory, characterize and assess sites contaminated by hazardous substances or petroleum; the grants also provide funds for planning and community outreach activities. Cleanup grants are used to clean up contamination at a site and move it closer to re-use. Revolving loan fund grants make cleanup funds available locally. There were no revolving loan fund grants awarded in Michigan this year.

One of Detroit's grants will be used to clean up three properties: the Spare Time Family Entertainment Center site at 11600-11736 E. Jefferson Ave., the Sears Retail Store and Auto Service Center site at 10750 Grand River Ave., and the Globe Building at 1801-1803 Atwater St. Once they are cleaned up, the three locations will be used for retail and entertainment venues, housing and green space. The second Detroit grant is for assessment of 28 sites in the Eastern Market Project Area, where the city's plans include a year-round marketplace, stores and restaurants integrated into the larger neighborhood.

Alma's grant will be used to clean up the former C&O-CSX property between Lincoln Avenue and North State Street, and the former Alma Iron and Metal property at 115 N. State St. The sites were used for lumber and coal storage and handling. Cleanup of the sites will facilitate the city's waterfront redevelopment project, designed to convert the area into a mix of retail, office and residential space surrounding a series of waterfront plazas and parks.

All the remaining grants awarded in Michigan are assessment grants.

Branch County will use the federal funds to identify and prioritize suspected brownfield sites and to do site assessments that will facilitate redevelopment.

Buchanan's grant will be used to identify and prioritize brownfield sites in the downtown area and along McCoy Creek, and to conduct 16 environmental site assessments.

In Clare County, the grant will pay for up to 32 site assessments. The county plans to encourage private investment in the community, increase the tax base and preserve open space essential to tourism.

Grand Traverse County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority plans to use
its grant for a site inventory and prioritization, as well as site assessments. The state has identified at least 64 brownfield sites in the county, and there are more than 200 leaking underground storage tanks. The goal of redevelopment is to maintain high-quality water resources that attract tourists, and to create more year-round employment opportunities.

Jackson Brownfield Redevelopment Authority will do at least 20 site assessments with its grants. Many of the city's 36 brownfield sites and 89 leaking underground storage tanks are near the Grand River corridor and downtown area. The assessment is expected to leverage investment in the River Arts Walk project, an urban walking trail along the Grand River.

Leelanau County's grant will be used to inventory and prioritize about 50 brownfield sites, and to do 34 site assessments.

Macatawa Area Coordinating Council will use its grants to inventory about 40 high-priority properties and perform site assessments, which are expected to improve development of the inner cities and help preserve agricultural land and green space. The council represents 13 communities near Lake Michigan with a total population of nearly 120,000.

In Manistee, the Brownfields grants will pay for up to 14 site assessments, primarily in two target areas: the Manistee Peninsula Redevelopment Area and the North Manistee Lakefront Industrial Corridor. These brownfield sites are located near bodies of water. After cleanup, the city plans to use them for marinas and boating facilities, as well as mixed commercial, retail and residential space.

Mecosta County will use its grants to inventory about 40 properties and perform site assessments.

Osceola County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority plans to use the federal funds to identify and inventory sites, and to perform up to 22 site assessments, as well as up to six cultural resource assessments based on the county's documented tribal history. The assessments will help the county promote redevelopment and preserve green spaces and natural resources.

St. Joseph County Economic Development Corporation's grant will pay for assessment of 20 sites in Three Rivers and Sturgis. Encouraging redevelopment will help preserve the county's farm land, and protect the economic vitality of the agricultural sector and the county's large seed processing plants.

Tuscola County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority will use federal funds to conduct more than 20 site assessments in the county's industrial corridors.

Van Buren County's grant will pay for a brownfield inventory and up to 21 site assessments. Agricultural land in the county is in danger of being developed, so the county is working to encourage redevelopment of sites in or near the downtown areas of the county's towns.

Wayne County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority will use its grants for up to 23 site assessments. More than 2,000 brownfield sites have been identified in the county. The state has identified more than 150 abandoned gas stations in Detroit alone. Assessment of these sites will promote their eventual cleanup and development, which will foster the re-establishment of vibrant urban neighborhoods throughout the county.

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 brownfield sites. Revolving loan funds are generally used to provide low-interest loans for brownfield cleanups.

Information on all 202 grant recipients is at http://www.epa.gov/brownfields .
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