Following a taxing application process, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded a $200,000 Brownfields Area-Wide Planning (AWP) grant to the city of Hickory, North Carolina.
According to the EPA, a brownfield is any real property where development could be complicated by the presence of any hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties protects the environment, reduces blight, and takes development pressures off greenspaces and working lands.
The Brownfields AWP program was modeled after New York State's Brownfields Opportunity Area (BOA) Program, and is part of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. The grant is intended to sustain community revitalization, particularly in economically distressed areas, by empowering neighborhood stakeholders, local governments and the private sector to develop plans for community-wide improvement. This inclusive, locally driven planning approach advances health and equity by fostering plans for livable communities through jobs, recreation, housing, and an increased tax base.
Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, said, "The selected grantees have demonstrated a strong vision and partnership to catalyze brownfield redevelopment as a pathway to transform their communities into vibrant destinations for housing, manufacturing, and transit-oriented development."
This is the third round of grants awarded under the Brownfields AWP program. In 2010, the first year of the program, $4 million was awarded to fund AWP plan development in 23 communities, which leveraged approximately $418 million in infrastructure and project development investments.
Hickory Planning and Development Director Brian Frazier said that the community was very proud of the award, since the grant process is especially competitive. Since 2007 Hickory has successfully petitioned for approximately $1 million in Brownfield grants, proving their dedication to community revitalization.
Environmental consultants assist local governments and non-profits in preparing grant applications for redevelopment projects, and can aid in the planning of land revitalization strategies to ensure a successful program.