Local governments

Coastal Management Grants Available – Informational Workshops Scheduled

Wisconsin’s coastal communities are encouraged to apply for grants from the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program (WCMP). The WCMP is currently accepting proposals to enhance, preserve, protect and restore resources within the coastal zone – counties adjacent to Lakes Superior and Michigan – and anticipates awarding up to $1.5 million.

Applications for the WCMP grants are due November 2, 2018. Three workshops are planned in the coming days to discuss the grant application process and funding priorities.

Tuesday, August 21
1:30 p.m.
Port of Milwaukee
2323 S. Lincoln Memorial Drive, Milwaukee
Milwaukee

Thursday, August 23
1:30 p.m.
Neville Public Museum
210 Museum Place
Green Bay

Tuesday, September 4
1:30 p.m.
Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center
29270 County Highway G
Ashland

The WCMP Grants are available for coastal wetland protection and habitat restoration, nonpoint source pollution control, coastal resource and community planning, Great Lakes education, public access and historic preservation.

Applicants are encouraged to contact WCMP staff early to discuss ideas for project proposals and application requirements.

Application materials and the Request for Proposals are available on the WCMP website or if you have specific questions, you can call the WCMP at 608-267-7982.

Environmental Liability Exemptions for Local Governments – Related to Redevelopment

Counties, cities, villages and towns, along with RDAs, CDAs, other local governmental units, can fairly easily obtain environmental liability exemptions, civil immunity, and cost recovery authority in Wisconsin when taking title to unproductive/abandoned industrial and commercial properties.

These protections are explicitly authorized by multiple sections in Wis. Statutes Ch. 292, and are designed to enable local governments to take action to stimulate redevelopment activities at contaminated or potentially contaminated properties when the private market is not providing enough capital and economic activity to achieve the desired level of community improvement on its own.

Remediation and Redevelopment Program staff are available to help local government officials understand and use these robust statutory tools, as well as identify financial assistance opportunities for environmental investigation and cleanup work. The DNR’s Green Team meetings are a good way to get started on your first, or next, redevelopment project.

The DNR publication Local Government Environmental Liability Exemptions in Wisconsin (RR-055) provides an overview of several local government environmental liability exemptions, and lists types of documentation that the DNR typically requests to confirm that the exemption is in effect.

Racine to Use DNR Brownfield Assessment Funds to Aid Uptown Redevelopment

Efforts to assess possible contamination at a decades-old industrial site in Racine’s uptown area will get a boost with a recently issued brownfields grant from the Department of Natural Resources.

The award comes from the DNR Wisconsin Assessment Monies (WAM) program, and will provide for contractor services worth approximately $20,000. The work will help the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Racine (RDA) assess possible contamination, leading to a potential cleanup and eventual reuse of the site.

Brownfields site in Racine.

Racine assessed this brownfield site in the uptown area with help from a WAM award worth $20,000 in contractor services.

The nearly one-acre site on 13th Street has a long history of various industrial uses. It was most recently the site of a laundry service for the health care and hospitality industries. Historic records from the Racine Fire Department indicate that a 500-gallon underground fuel oil tank was located on or near the property.

With the RDA ready to promote the property, an investigation of the environmental conditions on the site will help put the group in a better position of securing a buyer and returning the site to productive economic status.

“As Racine continues to redevelop former industrial sites, the DNR is proud to be part of the city’s future,” said Christine Haag, chief of the DNR brownfields section. “This WAM grant could be just the leverage that the RDA needs to help turn this property around and get it on track for the next generation of use.”

Administered by the DNR Remediation and Redevelopment Program, WAM awards provide communities with professional environmental site assessments of properties with known or perceived contamination. The program is funded through a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency brownfields assessment grant.

Participation in the WAM program requires minimal effort by local governments. Because there is no financial match or project administration involved, the program is an attractive opportunity for communities. In many instances, WAM awards are leveraged with other sources of funding to kick-start repurposing efforts on properties that may have been underutilized for many years.

Applications can be submitted for WAM awards at any time. Properties eligible for funding include closed or closing manufacturing plants, or vacant land with a history of manufacturing.

For more information, contact Tom Coogan at 608-267-7560 or Thomas.Coogan@wisconsin.gov.  

2018 Brownfields Conference for Local Governments a Success in Stevens Point

A crowd of nearly 100 people attended the Remediation and Redevelopment Program’s recent conference, Brownfields for Local Government Officials, held May 10, 2018 in Stevens Point.

The one-day conference spanned a host of land recycling issues, but did not include the technical topics often reserved for other events. Throughout the day, participants heard from developers, local government colleagues, and others about the tools and strategies to capitalize on underused, or even abandoned, properties.

The day began with an overview of the DNR’s Brownfields Program, including explanations of the financial aid and technical assistance that staff can provide. Other sessions included panel discussions with program staff (formerly private sector consultants) and with experienced developers familiar with the unique requirements of brownfields redevelopment.

Attendees also heard from local government leaders about devising county-wide redevelopment plans, state-assisted cost recovery mechanisms, and both state and federal brownfields assistance programs, including the Technical Assistance for Brownfields (TAB) program, a joint effort through the EPA and Kansas State University.

Conference presentations can be found in the program’s Training Library.

A similar conference will be held again in 2020.

Umpire Process: Helping Local Governments Take Charge of Brownfields

Wisconsin local governments seeking to catalyze redevelopment by cleaning up local brownfields have a powerful tool in their toolkit. The state’s Local Government Unit (LGU) Negotiation and Cost Recovery law lets cities, villages, counties, and other LGUs identify parties that are responsible for contamination at LGU-owned sites and then recover cleanup costs from them. This self-contained process includes public input and encourages responsible parties to agree on sharing cleanup costs – saving time and money – with help from a DNR-appointed “umpire,” or facilitator.

LGUs can pursue this process alongside the state regulatory process for cleanup, which allows local leaders to gauge cost recovery prospects while during the remedial action planning phase. The cost recovery process, known informally as the “Umpire Process,” is available at properties owned (either entirely or partially) by the LGU.

Continue reading “Umpire Process: Helping Local Governments Take Charge of Brownfields”

Free Professional Brownfields Assistance for Local Governments

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency funds professional service providers around the country to help local governments and tribes affected by environmental issues at brownfield properties. These professionals are part of the Technical Assistance for Brownfields (TAB) program and serve as no-cost independent advisors and resource providers for community revitalization efforts.

Wisconsin is fortunate to have two very experienced and talented TAB service providers available to our communities. Margaret Renas, from the Chicago-based nonprofit Delta Institute, is a professional engineer with a great deal of environmental consulting and community redevelopment experience. Maggie Egbarts, from Kansas State University, is the TAB Coordinator for EPA Regions 5 and 7, and has many years of experience in environmental assessment, cleanup, regulatory compliance and revitalization activities.

Continue reading “Free Professional Brownfields Assistance for Local Governments”

DNR, Wisconsin Communities Receive $2.9M in EPA Brownfields Awards for FY2018

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ Remediation and Redevelopment Program – along with its seven regional planning commission partners – is the recipient of a $600,000 US EPA Brownfields Grant.

The Wisconsin Brownfields Coalition will use this money to continue the Wisconsin Assessment Monies (WAM) program which provides funding to aid local governments and other eligible applicants in assessing and investigating environmental contamination at brownfields sites throughout the state. The coalition will target closed and closing manufacturing facilities to assess potential environmental contamination that could complicate reuse of the properties.

In addition to the Wisconsin DNR’s award, several other Wisconsin communities and entities were awarded US EPA Brownfields Grants:

  • Stevens Point – $300,000
  • Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee – $900,000
  • Racine – $300,000
  • Manitowoc – $300,000
  • Manitowoc Community Development Authority – $200,000
  • Bay-Lake Regional Planning Commission – $300,000

“Clearly there is no shortage of creativity, innovation and ingenuity when it comes to brownfields redevelopment projects in the great State of Wisconsin,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator and former Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. “EPA looks forward to expanding our work with our partners to redevelop brownfields so they can once again be thriving parts of their communities – spurring local economies with jobs and new businesses as well as generating tax revenues and spending.”

A full version of the US EPA press release can be found here.

TAB Program to Host May 9 Webinar on BUILD Act

The BUILD Act (Brownfields Utilization, Investment and Local Development) was signed into law in March 2018 and is the first major legislative change to Brownfields since passage of the original statute in 2002. Specific changes include: increased eligibility for funding, additional liability protections, and changes to grant programs, just to name a few.

Join Kansas State University Technical Assistance to Brownfields Program for a free, National TAB webinar, on Wednesday, May 9 at 1:00 pm (Central), to hear about how the BUILD Act will improve the national brownfields program and support community brownfields revitalization. The webinar will feature officials from U.S. EPA, a local community, national brownfield experts, and the coordinator of the National Brownfields Coalition. Click here to register and visit the event web page to get more information about this May 9 BUILD Act webinar.

City of Oshkosh Completes Last Phase of Riverfront Brownfields Cleanup

In June 2017, the city of Oshkosh received the final Wisconsin DNR approval of the remediation of the former Mercury Marine facility on the Fox River. In 2006, the city acquired the closed facility from Mercury Marine with hopes to convert the property into a new and improved community asset. The city used EPA brownfields grants for assessment and cleanup work on the properties as well as state, city, and private funding.

Oshkosh Riverwalk

A new riverwalk provides additional community access to the waterfront.

This property housed industrial facilities since the mid-1800s. Past uses of the land include a lumber business, candle company, and a bulk fuel tank farm. The site was then owned by the Kiekhaefer Aeromarine Company who then sold it to Mercury Marine in the mid-1970s. A range of contamination types were identified at the site as well as several feet of waste fill across the entire property. Metals, petroleum contamination, and chlorinated compounds were identified in the soil and groundwater.

The city removed much of the contamination while using buildings and parking lots to serve as a cover over the residual contaminated soil. In addition, the cleanup included an innovative approach where they left one area of heavily contaminated soil under a newly created, city owned, small park. This park serves as a protective barrier, saves project funds and creates additional public green space. This park connects to a new public riverwalk and piers along the river. The city partnered with a private developer to build three high quality apartment buildings, two specifically for senior residents. The site went through the DNR’s Voluntary Party Liability Exemption (VPLE) program and received a Certificate of Completion in August 2017 which provides liability protections for current and future property owners.

RR Program’s Brownfields Conference for Local Government Returns May 10 to Stevens Point

Registration is now open for the 2018 Brownfields Conference for Local Government: Revitalization Tools and Techniques – Getting to Groundbreaking, coming May 10 to the Stevens Point Holiday Inn Convention Center.

This day-long event will cover a variety of cleanup and redevelopment topics of interest to communities across the state, including:

  • Local government success stories and lessons learned
  • The real estate developer’s perspective
  • The DNR’s brownfields toolbox
  • Federal and state resources for brownfields redevelopment
  • Environmental consultant and community relationships

“The DNR’s Remediation and Redevelopment program is honored to once again host local government officials and non-profit representatives at this event,” said Christine Haag, Brownfields and Outreach Section Chief at the DNR. “We enjoy strong partnerships with many communities across the state. This conference is a chance for us to come together and share the collective knowledge and skills regarding the community’s role in environmental cleanups and the productive reuse of brownfields.”

Registration for the 2018 Brownfields Conference for Local Government is limited and reserved for government officials and non-profit representatives through April 15 at the rate of $35. The following day, registration increases to $50 and is open to all guests. (Please note: technical topics will not be discussed during this conference; Consultants’ Days events will return in the spring of 2019.)

To learn more about the conference and to stay up to date with the latest information, please visit the RR Program’s conference and training web page.