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The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Wednesday, June 10th,  $900,000 of supplemental funding is slated for successful brownfield revolving loan fun (RLF) programs to clean up sites in Camden, New Jersey, Niagara County and New York City.  The supplemental funds are part of $6.9. million going to communities across the country that have demonstrated success in using their brownfield funds to clean up and redevelop brownfield sites.  The funds will be used to continue progress in reusing vacant and abandoned properties and turning them into community assets such as housing, recreation, health facilities and commerce.

The EPA brownfield program is being used in different communities across New York, New Jersey and the rest of the United States by allowing local governments to turn these contaminated sites into community assets.  These funds will advance the work of partners in Camden, Niagara County and New York City to make progress within these communities. 

Niagara County Legislature Chairwoman Rebecca Wydysh said, “For the past 20 years, Niagara County has been a leaders in brownfield efforts, and the grant award from the federal government will further build upon our progress of remediating brownfield sites throughout the county.  Niagara County’s remediation program has successfully helped cleanup sites in urban, rural and suburban municipalities and brought new uses to abandoned properties while generating additional tax revenue and creating new jobs.”

“Cleaning up and reinvesting in brownfields helps revitalize the local economy, protects human health and the environment, removes blight and turns community liabilities into assets,” said Niagara County Brownfield Program Manager and President of the Niagara County Brownfield Development Corporation Amy Fisk.  “The new grant funding will be used to provide low interest loans to carry out cleanup activities at brownfield sites in the county.”

Camden, Niagara County and New York City will each receive $300,000 to fund brownfield cleanup projects in their communities with the intention of redeveloping vacant and abandoned properties and turning them into community assets.  The Niagara County Department of Economic Development, EPA will award $300,000 to support brownfield work.  Projects under consideration include repurposing a former elementary school into Niagara County’s first senior assisted living complex.  This will provide essential services for seniors and create new jobs in construction and staffing at the complex.  Funds may also support cleanup work needed to develop new commercial retail space with apartments in Lockport.  The EPA has awarded more than $4.3 million in RLP funds since 2012 in Niagara County and $7.3 million in brownfield grants since the program started. 

According to a recent press release, “All of the communities receiving supplemental funds have census tracks designed as federal Opportunity Zones within their jurisdiction.  An Opportunity Zone is an economically distressed community where new investment, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment.  Most often, those who reside near these sites are low-income, minority and disadvantaged Americans.  When coupled with leveraged funds, such as other brownfield grants or opportunity funds, revolving loans can be a powerful tool for revitalizing a community of need.”

When revolving loans are repaid, the loan amount is returned to the fund and lent to other borrowers, providing an ongoing source of capital within a community.  As of today, EPA’s revolving loan grantees across the country have completed 759 cleanups, attracted approximately 45,000 jobs and $8.4 billion in public and private funding.  There are an estimated 450,000 brownfields in the United States. 

Brownfield Grants have been shown to:

  • Increase local tax revenue – a study of 48 brownfield sites found an estimated $29 – $97 million in additional local tax revenue was generated in a single year after cleanup.  This is 2 – 7 times more than the $12.4 million the EPA contributed to the cleanup of these sites. 
  • Increase residential property values – property values of homes near revitalized brownfield sites increased between 5 and 15% following cleanup.  As of February 2020, under the EPA brownfields program, 31,516 properties have been assessed and 92,047 acres of idle land have been made for use.  Communities have been able to use brownfields grants to attract 160,306 jobs and more than $31 billion of public and private funding. 

Frontier Group is here to provide you with any information from clean up to the steps you may need to take during redeveloping brownfields.  Call us today at 716-447-7587.

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