Brownfield redevelopment transforms blighted, deteriorated and contaminated properties into community assets. The hope is to remove eyesores and entice development – everything from new parks, homes and retailers to commercial and industrial parks. To better understand brownfield redevelopment and its benefits, here are answers to some common questions that relate brownfield redevelopment projects.
What is a brownfield site?
It’s a former industrial or commercial site that may have contaminants, hazardous substances or pollutants. The contaminated property cannot be a Superfund site. Superfund sites are another type of contaminated property where the cleanup work is managed and funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Who is eligible to apply for brownfields grants?
Eligible entities include municipalities, regional councils, redevelopment agencies, tribes, nonprofit organizations and other government entities. Entities that caused the contamination are not eligible for the grants.
What is a brownfield grant?
The EPA provides these grants to eligible properties to fund environmental assessment, cleanup, revolving loans, environmental job training, technical assistance, training and research at brownfield sites. The EPA awards about 300 grants worth about $60 million each year. There are three types of grants: Assessment, environmental cleanup and revolving loan.
What is the end goal for brownfield sites?
It’s simple: Turn unusable or unwanted contaminated sites into prime redevelopment opportunities. Environmental concerns often equal a monetary risk for private developers and local governments. Brownfield grants help municipalities and others address the environmental concerns, so the site is prime for redevelopment, turning a liability into an asset.
What is the brownfield redevelopment process?
What should I expect if I live near a brownfield site that’s targeted for cleanup? What if it’s not slated for cleanup?
By following the brownfield redevelopment process above, we can determine the presence and extent of contamination at the site. Some sites are ready for redevelopment in a few months following the Phase I ESA with no further environmental testing required. However, some sites with more severe or extensive contamination may require substantial remediation. In these cases, it could take years, sometimes decades, before the site is ready for redevelopment. But be patient, and at the end of the brownfield redevelopment process, the vacant gravel lot or deteriorated building can be turned into housing, shopping center or park that vastly improves the neighborhood.
Dillon Plamann is a Project Hydrogeologist at Fehr Graham.
He helps with many projects, including soil and groundwater investigations,
remedial activities, due diligence and building material assessments.
He also works on reports, work plans, proposals, budgets, and Phase I and II ESAs.