Brownfields

EPA Solicitation for 2018 BUILD Act Comments

The Brownfields Utilization, Investment and Local Development (BUILD) Act was enacted on March 23, 2018 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018. The BUILD Act reauthorized EPA’s Brownfields Program, and made amendments to the 2002 Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act.  Authorized changes affect brownfields grants, ownership and liability provisions, and state and tribal response programs. EPA is developing policy guidance to implement the BUILD Act.

https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-broadcast

As part of this process, the EPA is soliciting comment on three provisions in the BUILD Act:

  1. The authority to increase the per-site cleanup grant amounts to $500,000;
  2. The new multi-purpose grant authority; and
  3. The new small community assistance grant authority.

Comments will be accepted through July 10, 2018 to BUILDAct@epa.gov.

Economic Development on Brownfields Workshop Announced

You’re invited to a workshop about economic development on brownfield properties, to be held at the County Community Building in DeKalb, Illinois, on July 25, 2018, from 9:15 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. DeKalb is about 60 minutes south of Beloit. The workshop is free but registration is required by July 20. Lunch will be provided.

This workshop will help communities gain a better understanding of what a brownfield is, learn how brownfield revitalization can be a part of your community’s economic development strategy, and hear from state and national leaders about resources available to your community. Some of the material will be Illinois-specific, but most of it is broadly applicable to all brownfield properties everywhere.

Workshop presenters include a brownfields expert from U.S. EPA’s Technical Assistance to Brownfields (TAB) program. This person also serves and consults with Wisconsin communities. TAB services and federal funding opportunities will be discussed in detail.

For more information about this workshop, and to register, go to https://www.ksutab.org/education/workshops/details?id=300

Aug. 1, 2018 – EPA Brownfields Grant Writing Workshop in La Crosse

Join the DNR and Minnesota Brownfields on Aug. 1, 2018, in La Crosse, for a free, full-day workshop on writing successful EPA grant applications. Get the information you need to know to compete effectively for these funds, and get a head-start on your proposal for the fall grant opportunity.

Wisconsin communities, and the DNR, have been awarded millions of dollars in brownfields grant funds by the EPA over the past decade. It is clearly possible to obtain these dollars, but your grant application package has to be very good to stand out and get funded. Tips and strategies from experts will be shared at this workshop.

New federal legislation, referred to as the BUILD Act, makes changes to several aspects of brownfields law, including more clarity for local governments on how to obtain federal liability protections, and more flexibility in the EPA grant program. Learn about these changes and more.

Who should attend? Local and regional government officials, not-for-profit economic and community development organizations, tribes, and any other entity interested in applying for federal grants to assist with the assessment, cleanup, and redevelopment of under-performing commercial and industrial properties in their community.

More information about the workshop is available HERE, and a link to the registration form is available HERE (button near top-right of web page). We hope you can join us!

A Nod to the DNR’s VPLE Program in Coverage of Oak Creek’s New Lake Vista Park

Natural Resources Board tours Oak Creek

Oak Creek City Attorney Larry Haskin addresses the media and members of the Natural Resources Board during an August 2017 tour of Lake Vista Park in Oak Creek.

The city of Oak Creek plans to officially unveil its newest park this summer. It’s a prime location of nearly 100-acres that overlooks Lake Michigan and is the former site of a chemical plant that left a history of contamination when it closed.

The decades-long environmental cleanup was completed in 2014 using the DNR’s Voluntary Party Liability Exemption (VPLE) program. The VPLE program provided an incentive for the industrial owner to complete a cleanup that allowed the city to transform this former lakefront industrial site into a stunning new park with majestic views of the nearby lake.

You can listen to the story by Milwaukee Public Radio.

For more information about the DNR’s VPLE program, please contact Michael.Prager@wisconsin.gov.

 

EPA ARC Grants Preparation & BUILD Act

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Brownfields program provides direct grant funding to local governments and other entities for environmental assessment activities, cleanup work, and the capitalization of revolving loan funds. New grant application guidelines are announced each year in the fall, typically in October, and applicants usually have around eight weeks to complete and submit their application.

Competition for these grants is strong, and the total amount of funding available is limited to about $50 million nationwide each year. Many Wisconsin communities and the DNR have obtained brownfields grant funds from the EPA over the past 15 years.

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EPA Brownfields Grant Application Tips – June 6 Webinar

Every year, in the fall, the EPA offers a new opportunity for local governments and others to obtain grant funds for environmental assessments, revolving loan funds, and property cleanup work (“ARC”). It is good to get started early on your grant application package, well before the official EPA announcement is made in the fall.

One of the EPA’s national outreach and assistance contractors is hosting a free “head-start” grant writing webinar on Wednesday, June 6, 2018 | 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM CDT. The title of the webinar is “Writers of the Best ARC.” In addition to tried-and-true tips and techniques, along with hard lessons learned, the webinar is offering grant writing advice from expert grant writers from around the country.

Get a head start on the ARC grant application period, and learn about recent federal legislative changes that may affect the EPA guidelines this fall. Register at https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/3941484594013599491

In addition, the EPA periodically hosts general grant award process webinars. More information on these presentations is available at https://www.epa.gov/grants/epa-grants-award-process-webinars.

Got Brownfields? Get a Green Team meeting!

meeting puzzle (transparent background)Teamwork can transform old, dilapidated industrial and commercial properties into economically and socially beneficial community assets. The DNR’s Remediation and Redevelopment Program is willing and able to be on your local government team. We have experience with thousands of successful revitalization projects, we have grant and loan funding available, and we can help bring other key stakeholders to your table at any stage of the process. Contact us today to set up a Green Team meeting and get things going.

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.

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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.

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Wausau Riverfront Redevelopment: Grant Funding Assists in Completion of Riverfront Corridor

In late 2013, the city of Wausau received $151,171 in Ready for Reuse grant funding through Wisconsin DNR’s 104(k) revolving loan fund grant for a cleanup at 1010 North 1st Street. The property, one in a string of parcels, was identified along the Wisconsin River as part of a comprehensive riverfront redevelopment strategy. Since then, extensive work along the river corridor has occurred with the goal of bringing business and public access to what was once underused riverfront property.

The site’s history includes lumber production, manufacturing, scrap iron, and automobile parking and storage. The 3.9-acre property is one of six contiguous former industrial riverfront properties totaling 16 acres adjacent to the Wisconsin River that are planned for commercial, residential and/or recreational mixed use redevelopment known as the Riverfront Redevelopment Area.

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