EPA Region seven spokesman, Chris Whitley, says Burlington, Dubuque and Waterloo will receive more than one million dollars in funding. “The grant program provides funding in three broad categories — it’s for assessments, cleanups and a revolving loan for development of old brownfield properties,” Whitley explains.
Brownfield is the EPA designation of the areas that need attention. “A brownfield is broadly defined as any property that is either compromised in some way by hazardous waste, or contamination or pollution. Or there is the perception that it is contaminated with hazardous waste or pollution. And sometimes that alone is the element that serves as a road block toward it being redeveloped toward productive use,” according to Whitley.
Burlington will receive a total of $400,000 in community wide assessment funds, including $200,000 for assessment of petroleum contamination and $200,000 for assessment of hazardous waste, focused on redeveloping the city’s downtown district.
The city of Dubuque will receive a $200,000 cleanup grant to address the Blum property, a former scrap yard located in the city’s Washington neighborhood. The East Central Intergovernmental Association in Dubuque will receive a total of $600,000 in assessment coalition funding, including $350,000 for assessment of hazardous waste and $250,000 for assessment of petroleum contamination.
The funding will help establish a brownfields program for 66 small rural communities in five Iowa counties: Cedar, Clinton, Delaware, Dubuque and Jackson. Waterloo will receive a total of $400,000 in community wide assessment funds, including 200-thousand dollars for assessment of petroleum contamination and $200,000 for assessment of hazardous waste, focused on vacant or abandoned industrial properties in the urban core and along the Broadway Street corridor.
Whitley says the grants are intended to get the ball rolling in cleaning up the properties. “Rarely does this type of funding cover all of the costs that it takes to redevelop a property that’s a brownfield. But what it does, it provides some very important seed money to get the project off the ground. Sometimes what’s holding things back is the money or funding that’s need to do just the basic assessment of a property,” Whitley explains.
He says that initial assessment is important in gathering information. “Find out what the contamination is, where it exists, what the extent of it is, etcetera. So that you can determine the actual costs of cleaning it up and developing it and going along,” Whitley says. He says some of the funding can be used for cleaning up a property depending on what was applied for in the project.
Whitley says cleaning up the sites and putting them back to some sort of use helps the communities and it also helps the environment by getting rid of the contamination.