The Brownfields Assessment Coalition, made up of the Cities of Eugene and Springfield, and Lane County, has been awarded a brownfields assessment grant of $500,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The award will allow the Coalition to build on the successes of its existing program, laying the foundation for transforming derelict land from liabilities into assets. Addressing brownfields enhances public health and livability, supports the development of businesses that bring new jobs, supports the development of new housing, and protects greenspaces.
The EPA first awarded the Coalition a Brownfields Assessment Grant in 2012. Since then, the Coalition conducted environmental assessments of 15 properties. These former brownfield sites can now be redeveloped into new housing, commercial uses, and public spaces. With this continued funding, the Coalition will build on the success of previous work, targeting areas that may face challenges in attracting redevelopment.
“With the EPA’s grant support we can continue to build on the success of the Brownfield Assessment program. This program is helping promote the sustainable reuse and redevelopment of existing land within our community,” says Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis. “Making sure sites are ready and available for reuse is good for our environment, advances local prosperity and supports underserved neighborhoods. We are encouraged by the EPA’s continued investment in our region and look forward to continuing this important work.”
“This EPA program is a valuable asset that has and will help communities like ours,” said Springfield Mayor Christine Lundberg. “It is vital that we are good stewards of our land and partners with our existing and future property owners. This funding will allow us to continue our efforts with our regional partners to move our communities forward by rehabilitating existing properties.”
"We are thrilled to be part of the Brownfields Coalition," said Lane County Board of Commissioners Chair Pat Farr. "This grant will be a critical boost to our region’s economic development efforts and will assist Lane County in its efforts to promote safe, healthy and vibrant communities."
“I’m proud to have helped secure this funding for the Brownfields Assessment Coalition,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio. “This grant will help struggling communities reclaim contaminated former mill sites and turn them back into productive workable lands. Through the EPA’s Brownfield’s Assessment Grant, the Eugene Brownfield Coalition will determine how contaminated these sites are, what pollutants are present, and how to dealt with them. This is essential work that will employ people now and in the future when these spaces are reclaimed for sensible development.”
A brownfield is a site that is perceived to have potential contamination issues, but in reality the site may or may not be environmentally contaminated. The grant provides funds to assess these often underutilized sites and develop clean-up plans if needed; both of these tasks can often be hurdles to redevelopment.
Grant funds will allow the Coalition to work with property owners and other stakeholders to take the first step towards redevelopment and reuse of brownfield sites by assessing whether or not they are actually contaminated and creating a clean-up plan as needed. Thanks to the support of local community organizations and Congressman DeFazio, this tool will continue to be available to help the Coalition partners address disadvantaged areas that may otherwise not attract redevelopment without the availability of these Assessment funds.
Funds from the Coalition’s previous grant have played a significant role in two upcoming projects: the 6th Avenue and Oak mixed-use development and the redevelopment of the EWEB property known as the Riverfront Redevelopment Project. The grant funded assessments identified the precise location of contamination and supported the development of a remediation plan. These two projects are expected to generate more than $150 million in private investment over the next decade.
With this new round of funding, the Coalition will reach out to community groups and nonprofits to identify underutilized sites in targeted areas, including the Bethel, Trainsong, and Whiteaker neighborhoods in Eugene, the Glenwood and west Springfield areas of Springfield, and rural areas of Lane County that may be eligible for brownfields funding.
For more information on the Eugene Brownfields Coalition visit http://www.brownfieldscoalition.org.