CHEYENNE — At an event at a brownfields site and the future home of the Children’s Museum of Cheyenne, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced $1,425,000 in new Brownfields grants to state and local partners in Wyoming. This funding will advance the environmental assessment, cleanup, and redevelopment of brownfields throughout the state. Brownfields are properties where redevelopment or reuse is limited by the presence or potential presence of environmental contamination that poses a risk to human health and the environment.
The Wyoming grantees are among 144 recipients across the nation selected for EPA Brownfields environmental assessment, revolving loan fund, and cleanup grants. The 221 grants totaling $54.3 million will provide communities with funding to assess, clean up and redevelop underused properties while protecting public health and the environment.
“EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has made it a priority to clean up and return contaminated land to productive use,” said EPA Regional Administrator Doug Benevento. “We are achieving this goal with strong state partners like the Wyoming Business Council and Wyoming DEQ, and local leaders in places like Cheyenne, Douglas, Laramie, and Sheridan. The great Children’s Museum of Cheyenne that will soon sit atop a former brownfield site demonstrates the value of these projects. We look forward to the Museum educating and delighting Wyoming’s children for decades to come.”
EPA is providing a total of $1,425,000 in 2018 Brownfields grants to three recipients in Wyoming.
The Wyoming Business Council will use $800,000 in EPA grant funds to establish and capitalize a new revolving loan fund for cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields. The Business Council will coordinate with Wyoming DEQ’s Voluntary Remediation program to target high-priority projects in communities across Wyoming, including Sheridan County, Green River, and Laramie.
“Cleaning up and restoring properties to productive use is essential to energizing neighborhoods, encouraging new investment and building our local economies,” said Community Development Director for the Business Council, Julie Kozlowski. “We look forward to working with Wyoming DEQ to create a self-sustaining program that will help many communities reclaim old sites for new uses.”
The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will receive a $325,000 Brownfields grant to conduct a comprehensive environmental assessment at the former Acme Power Plant in Sheridan. The 5.8-acre site sits along the Tongue River, a scenic and important recreational area. Wyoming DEQ will work closely with the Sheridan County Conservation District to investigate soils, river sediments, surface water and groundwater at the site with the goal of integrating future use of the property with current recreational uses in the area, including hiking, hunting, fishing and boating.
“I appreciate the hard work that went into securing these funds for the State of Wyoming,” said Wyoming DEQ Director Todd Parfitt. “These funds provide the resources to address contamination at historically impacted sites and will help bring these properties back into productive use while protecting human health and the environment.”
The City of Douglas will use $300,000 in EPA grant funds to assess environmental risks and facilitate the redevelopment of in a downtown target area that includes a railyard facility, an historic oil depot, the old Douglas High School, the site of an old fire-damaged building, and abandoned gas stations. These vacant brownfield properties are diminishing the vitality of the City’s downtown and discouraging redevelopment. Opportunities for revitalization include new retail and business opportunities that will create employment and tax generation. Potential contaminants of concern include petroleum compounds, asbestos, lead paint, and mold.
“The City of Douglas, along with our community partners, are enthused to begin efforts to make lasting change to our downtown by remediating brownfield sites,” said Mayor Bruce A. Jones. “We see the power of the program and can’t wait to put this assistance into action for the betterment of our residents.”
The Children’s Museum of Cheyenne hosted today’s event as their new museum will be constructed on a brownfield property that was assessed and will be cleaned up this summer with funds provided by EPA and Wyoming DEQ. The project is a great example of the type of redevelopment efforts that EPA’s Brownfields grant funds will be used to support across the state.
“We are thankful for our partnership in the cleanup of our property to be shovel ready when we are set to build,” said President of the Board, Caroline Veit. “The Children’s Museum of Cheyenne will be a one-of-a-kind place that will inspire the love of learning for kids and their families through creative, hands-on experiences.”
EPA’s Brownfields Program targets communities that are economically disadvantaged and provides funding and assistance to transform contaminated sites into assets that can generate jobs and spur economic growth. A study analyzing 48 brownfields sites found that an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional tax revenue was generated for local governments 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. Another study found that property values of homes located near brownfields sites that are cleaned up increased between 5 and 15 percent post cleanup.
Communities can use EPA Brownfields funding to leverage considerable infrastructure and other financial resources. For example, EPA’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund can be used to address the water quality aspects of brownfield sites and the assessment and construction of drinking water infrastructure on brownfields, respectively. EPA’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program may also serve as a potential source of long-term, low-cost supplemental financing to fund brownfields project development and implementation activities to address water quality aspects of brownfields.
List of the FY 2018 applicants selected for funding:
For more information on Brownfields grants: https://www.epa.gov/
For more information on EPA’s Brownfields Program: https://www.epa.gov/
For more information on how brownfields restoration has positively impacted local economies and the quality of life for neighboring communities: https://www.epa.