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June 2021 – Brownfields and Land Revitalization Successes

Making a Difference with Brownfields Funding

Any time you have the opportunity to make a difference in the world and you don’t, then you are wasting your time on earth. – Roberto Clemente

Since 1993, US EPA’s Brownfields and Land Revitalization Program has been devoted to providing funding and technical assistance to communities throughout the United States and Puerto Rico to help characterize and remediate blighted, under-utilized, and contaminated properties and return them to more beneficial uses. 

In 1998, Environmental Standards had its first opportunity to work on a brownfields project. We partnered with the Lancaster County Planning Commission and the Inner City Group in the assessment and restoration of the Roberto Clemente Park and ballfield. Excavation efforts revealed the detritus left behind from a former scrapyard, dry cleaner, and umbrella handle manufacturer that once occupied the site. It was our great privilege and honor to assess and remediate the site. Since those days, the park has expanded to include soccer and other sports and has garnered support from the Cal Ripken Jr. Foundation and the Boys and Girls Club. And most importantly, Roberto Clemente, arguably the best right fielder who ever played the game of baseball and the first Latino to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, will continue to be celebrated for not only his magnificent achievements on the field, but also for his community service and advocacy work.

Back in 1998, environmental consultants who were hoping to be hired for brownfields work were not engaged to help write grant applications. Like acid-washed jeans, those days are gone, and environmental consultants are frequently involved in the grant-writing process – often at no charge to the applicant. Environmental Standards’ Brownfields Team is no exception. We have helped municipalities and non-profit organizations in US EPA Region 3 garner millions of dollars in US EPA Brownfields Grants. This year our efforts resulted in several municipalities in the mid-Atlantic states being awarded more than a million dollars in grant funding. 

While Washington D.C. is rife with political polarization and theater, our elected officials agree that funding US EPA’s Brownfields Program remains a priority. 

This year, through the COVID relief bill, US EPA was allocated $200 million dollars. It is anticipated that US EPA will offer brownfields funding for the upcoming 2021-22 grant application cycle in the amount of $50 to $60 million. It is also expected that projects that are focused on affordable housing and addressing homelessness, environmental justice causes, restoring communities, infrastructure, renewable energy, restoration of mine-scarred lands, redevelopment of sites adjacent to water bodies and climate change resiliency initiatives will be best positioned for funding.

The Environmental Standards Brownfields Team will work closely with you and your Economic Development Team to help create a compelling brownfields grant application narrative and provide supporting data to demonstrate how securing a US EPA Brownfields Grant will benefit members of your community. We will work with the Project Team to identify community needs, help select and identify candidate sites and economic development corridors for consideration for future development, and then layout potential plans for revitalization. In order to gather relevant data, we will review various databases (census data, health department data, EPA EJSCREEN) as well as Comprehensive Plans and Economic Development Strategy reports to assist clients in providing US EPA Brownfields Grant application reviewers with the necessary information they will need to greenlight the grant application. We will demonstrate how the funding will help affect positive outcomes to the public and the environment while helping to expand localities’ tax base and property values.

Be on the lookout for the US EPA Brownfields Grant Application guidelines this summer, and if you need help in applying for those grants, give us a call.

Ann Marie Gathright

Account Executive