Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Wheeler announced EPA’s selection of four entities in North Carolina for Brownfields grants totaling $1.4 million. Recipients include the City of Gastonia ($300,000), the City of Kinston ($300,000), the City of Salisbury ($500,000) and the Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments ($300,000).
“Grants awarded by EPA’s Brownfield Program provide communities and tribes across the country with an opportunity to transform contaminated sites into community assets,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Under President Trump’s leadership, EPA has delivered approximately $287 million in Brownfield grants directly to communities and nonprofits for cleanup and redevelopment, job creation, and economic development through the award of over 948 grants.”
“These grants will provide the cities of Gastonia, Kinston and Salisbury as well as the Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments with resources to clean up contaminated lands and return them to productive use,” said EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker. “Overall, Brownfields funding provides communities with an opportunity to convert contaminated sites into community assets that will attract jobs, encourage partnerships and achieve broader economic development outcomes.”
Nationwide, the agency is announcing the selection of 155 grants for communities and tribes totaling over $65.6 million in EPA brownfields funding through the agency’s Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grant Programs. These funds will aid under-served and economically disadvantaged communities, including neighborhoods located in Opportunity Zones, in assessing and cleaning up abandoned industrial and commercial properties. An Opportunity Zone is an economically-distressed community where new investment, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment. Of the communities selected this year, 118 can potentially assess or clean up brownfield sites in census tracts designated in these zones. In addition, nearly 30% of the communities selected today will receive brownfields funding for the first time.
“With more than 500 Brownfield sites in North Carolina, communities all across North Carolina are unable to use valuable pieces of property,” said U.S. Senator Tom Tillis (NC). “I want to thank EPA Administrator Wheeler and President Trump for awarding these grants to clean up these sites so these communities can rehabilitate properties and create jobs that contribute to the economy.”
“When North Carolina businesses transition to new spaces, their former offices or storefronts shouldn’t be left to sit vacant,” said Senator U.S. Senator Richard Burr (NC). “These Brownfields grants will help empower the communities of Gastonia, Kinston, Salisbury, Littleton and Roanoke Rapids to safely evaluate and rehab these unused spaces for today’s commercial use. I applaud Administrator Wheeler for recognizing the importance of these projects and thank Administrator Walker and local officials for their dedication to bringing additional commercial development to their communities.”
“We are thrilled that the City of Salisbury has been chosen to receive this Brownfields Grant from the EPA. The $500,000 grant will fund the cleanup of a contaminated area of the city and allow it to be developed and revitalized,” said U.S. Congressman Ted Budd (NC-13). “In a time of great uncertainty in our country, this funding represents an important economic stimulus that will support the city of Salisbury and spur the economic comeback that is sure to take place once the COVD-19 pandemic is in our rearview mirror.”
“The Brownfield Assessment Grant is great news for our area. It’s location in an Opportunity Zone signifies huge potential for future growth. I look forward to seeing how this initiative will help repurpose these areas for expanded economic development in Gastonia,” said U.S. Congressman Patrick McHenry (NC-10).
“I am pleased Kinston was selected to be a Brownfields grant recipient, and I thank the EPA for the great work they are doing in North Carolina,” said U.S. Congressman Greg Murphy, M.D. (NC-03). “Not only will this funding help clean up the Queen Street Corridor, it will also help create jobs for hardworking eastern North Carolinians. In this challenging time, it is good to have projects that not only benefit the health of our communities but also get people back to work.”
“The Brownfield grants were designed by Congress to protect and redevelop communities affected by environmental contamination. I am grateful to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its willingness to provide substantial grants to the City of Roanoke Rapids and Town of Littleton,” said Congressman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01).
"The community leaders in Gastonia, Kinston, Salisbury, Littleton and Roanoke Rapids had the vision to transform abandoned properties into thriving spaces to benefit their communities," said North Carolina Assistant Secretary for the Environment Sheila Holman. "The EPA grants are a win-win, as they will help these communities redevelop the properties, creating jobs and boosting the local economy while protecting the environment.”
“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with the EPA to address contaminated sites in Salisbury,” said Salisbury Mayor Karen Kirks Alexander. “This grant will enable us to clean up the former Kesler textile mill site, remove an eye sore, improve public health and safety, act as a springboard for redevelopment, and continued improvements in the Park Avenue neighborhood.”
“Gastonia is a strong community that has transitioned from its textile roots to a robust and diverse economy; supporting advanced manufacturing, healthcare, and a growing Downtown sports and entertainment district. Our City is proving to be “the place to be” for developers and young professional entrepreneurs,” said Gastonia Mayor Walker E. Reid, III. “The brownfield funds are critical to facilitating the development of some older infill sites that would otherwise not be financially feasible to pursue.”
“I’d like to say thank you to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency for giving us, the City Of Kinston the opportunity to make some of our properties throughout our downtown developable, in hopes of attracting more businesses and entrepreneur's to our city,” said Kinston Mayor Don Hardy. “I'm excited that we were chosen to be one of the applicants to receive the Brownfields grant. We are humble to be awarded and do not take any of this lightly. We look forward to the continued relationship between the City of Kinston and our good friends at the U.S Environmental Protection Agency.”
The grant recipients in North Carolina include:
Gastonia, N.C., Assessment Grant
EPA has selected the City of Gastonia for a Brownfields Assessment Grant. Community-wide grant funds will be used to conduct 10 Phase I and four Phase II environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to develop two cleanup plans and support community involvement activities. Assessment activities will focus on the NC Highway 7 Corridor, which contains multiple brownfield sites, including a mix of abandoned commercial buildings and former mill facilities, and Qualified Opportunity Zones. The priority sites include two areas formerly occupied by textile mills.
Kinston, N.C., Assessment Grant
EPA has selected the City of Kinston for a Brownfields Assessment Grant. Community-wide grant funds will be used to prepare an inventory of brownfield sites and conduct 12 Phase I and seven Phase II environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to develop three cleanup plans and support reuse planning and community involvement efforts. Assessment activities will focus on the city’s Queen Street Corridor, which contains over 80 brownfield sites made up of abandoned gasoline stations, former industrial sites, and vacant or underutilized commercial and retail buildings.
Salisbury, N.C., Cleanup Grant
EPA has selected the City of Salisbury for a Brownfields Cleanup Grant. Grant funds will be used to clean up the former Kesler Mill/Fieldcrest Cannon Plant #7 located at 423 North Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, which is located in a Qualified Opportunity Zone. A textile mill operated on the site from 1895 until 2003. Since ceasing operation, mill structures, including a large mill house, several warehouses, a machine shop, and a waste house, were demolished and left in large debris piles on the site. The site is contaminated with inorganic contaminants, metals, TCE, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, and petroleum hydrocarbons. Grant funds also will be used to conduct community outreach activities.
Wilson, N.C.: Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments, Assessment Grant
EPA has selected the Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments for a Brownfields Assessment Grant. Communitywide grant funds will be used to inventory sites and conduct six Phase I and two Phase II environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to develop three cleanup plans and to support redevelopment planning efforts and public involvement activities. Assessment activities will focus on the Town of Littleton and the Rosemary Historic Mill District in the City of Roanoke Rapids. Priority sites include a 54-acre former textile mill that has sat vacant for over 25 years and a severely dilapidated former gasoline station.
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. For example, brownfields grants are shown to:
- Increase Local Tax Revenue: A study of 48 brownfields 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 brownfields sites increased between 5% and 15% following cleanup.
A brownfield is a property for which 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 United States. EPA’s Brownfields Program began in 1995 and has provided nearly $1.6 billion in brownfield grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return blighted properties to productive reuse. To date, brownfields investments have leveraged more than $31 billion in cleanup and redevelopment. Over the years, the relatively small investment of federal funding, from both public and private sources, leveraged more than 160,000 jobs.
The next National Brownfields Training Conference will be held on April 26-30, 2021, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Offered every two years, this conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing former commercial and industrial properties. EPA co-sponsors this event with the International City/County Management Association.
List of the FY 2020 applicants selected for funding: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/applicants-selected-fy-2020-brownfields-assessment-revolving-loan-fund-and-cleanup-0
For more on the brownfields grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types-brownfields-grant-funding
For more on EPA’s Brownfields Program: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields
For more information about EPA’s role in Opportunity Zones: https://www.epa.gov/opportunity-zones
For information on the studies related to the Brownfields Program’s environmental and economic benefits: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-program-environmental-and-economic-benefits