EPA Announces $900,000 in Revolving Loan Funds to Clean Up and Reuse Brownfield Sites in Three Separate Areas, Niagara County Included

We have removed some quotes from N.Y.C. and Camden, N.J. Officials for the sake of clarity and relevance:

NEW YORK (June 10, 2020) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that $900,000 of supplemental funding is slated for successful Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) programs to clean up brownfields sites in Camden, NJ, Niagara County, NY and New York City. The supplemental funds announced today are part of $6.9 million going to communities across the country that have demonstrated success in using their Brownfields funds to clean up and redevelop brownfields 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 and open space, health facilities, social services and commerce opportunities. 

“The EPA Brownfields Program is transforming communities across New York, New Jersey and the nation by allowing local governments to turn contaminated sites into community assets that attract jobs and boost economic development,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez. “The supplemental funds announced today will advance the phenomenal work of our partners in Camden, Niagara County and New York City to make on-the-ground progress within these communities.” 

“For the past 20 years Niagara County has been a leader in brownfield efforts and the grant award from the federal government will further build upon our progress of remediating brownfield sites throughout the County,” said Niagara County Legislature Chairwoman Rebecca Wydysh. “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. We look forward to continuing our strong partnership with the USEPA.” 

Camden, Niagara County and New York City will each be receiving $300,000 to fund brownfields cleanup projects in their communities with the intention of redeveloping vacant and abandoned properties and turning them into community assets such as housing, recreation and open space, health facilities, social services and commerce opportunities. Specific projects will be reviewed and selected by EPA so that work may begin as early as October 2020. 

The Camden Redevelopment Agency will receive $300,000. One project under consideration for this funding is the remediation and preservation of Building 8, an industrial site that is currently blighting downtown revitalization efforts and is eligible for listing on the federal register of historic places. Funding may also be used to support the redevelopment and expansion of a light manufacturing facility at the Concord Chemical site that could create 20 additional jobs. 

To the Niagara County Department of Economic Development, EPA will award $300,000 to support brownfields work. Projects under consideration include repurposing a former elementary school into Niagara County’s first senior assisted living complex. The assisted living complex can provide essential services for seniors in Niagara County and create new jobs in both construction and staffing for the complex. Funds may also support cleanup work needed to develop a new commercial retail space with apartments in Lockport, NY. 

The City of New York will also be awarded $300,000 to fund the construction of affordable housing projects. Sites identified to potentially receive funding include affordable and low-income residential buildings planned on Pitkin Avenue in Brooklyn, Boone Avenue in the Bronx and Central Avenue in Queens. These projects may provide more than 300 affordable housing units to low-income city residents and create jobs in East New York, the Bronx and the Rockaways. 

EPA has awarded more than $1.7 million to Camden, NJ in Brownfields RLF funds since 2016 and over $7.4 million in brownfields grants since the inception of the program. In Niagara County, EPA has awarded more than $4.3 million in RLF funds since 2012 and $7.3 million in brownfields grants since the program began. Since 2013, EPA has awarded New York City more than $2.3 million in Brownfields RLF funds and more than $5.6 million in grants under the EPA’s Brownfields Program. 

All of the communities receiving supplemental funds have census tracks designated 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. To date, EPA’s Revolving Loan grantees across the country have completed 759 cleanups and attracted approximately 45,000 jobs and $8.4 billion in public and private funding. 

A brownfield is a property where 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. 

Grants awarded by EPA’s Brownfields 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. Under President Trump, over 70% of the communities selected for Brownfields grants in 2019 were located in Opportunity Zones. Brownfields grants have been shown to: 

– Increase Local Tax Revenue: A study of 48 brownfield 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 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 ready for productive use. In addition, communities have been able to use Brownfields grants to attract 160,306 jobs and more than $31 billion of public and private funding. 

For more on EPA’s Brownfields Program: http://www.epa.gov/brownfields 

For more on Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund Grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types- brownfields-grant-funding 

For more information on Opportunity Zones: https://www.epa.gov/opportunity-zones Follow EPA Region 2 on Twitter at http://twitter.com/eparegion2 and visit our Facebook page, http://facebook.com/eparegion2