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 Huerfano County, Lamar and La Junta among 265 communities nationwide to receive Brownfields Cleanup, Assessment and Revolving Loan Fund Grants to help build a better America while advancing environmental justice

 DENVER Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing southern Colorado communities will receive $1.5 million to advance the cleanup and revitalization of priority sites. Huerfano County Economic Development, the City of Lamar and the City of La Junta will each receive $500,000 to conduct community-wide Brownfields assessments.  

 With this funding, southern Colorado communities will advance the cleanup of polluted sites, prioritizing community involvement in decision-making,” said EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker. “I applaud Huerfano County, Lamar and La Junta for focusing on environmental cleanups and economic opportunities that benefit underserved community members.” 

 Huerfano County Economic Development will use Brownfields assessment grant funds to conduct 17 environmental site assessments and prepare three reuse plans. These site assessments will examine current and historical uses of properties, and sample soil, water, air and building materials, to evaluate potential contamination, determine cleanup options, and initiate reuse planning. Grant funds will also be used to prepare a brownfields revitalization plan and a Community Involvement Plan, conduct meetings with site owners and potential developers, and conduct other community outreach activities. The target area for this grant is the Seventh Street/Highway 160 Brownfields Corridor, which includes sites within the City of Walsenburg’s downtown business district. Priority sites include the St. Mary’s campus, a former gas station, and a former youth camp previously used for agriculture. 

 This grant will allow Huerfano County Economic Development to help our business community tackle Brownfield sites that have held back growth and development in our County for decades,” said Director of Economic Development Carlton Croft. 

The City of La Junta plans to utilize Brownfields assessment grant funds to conduct 17 environmental site assessments and develop five cleanup plans. Grant funds will also be used to prepare an inventory of brownfield sites, develop a Community Involvement Plan, and conduct other community outreach activities. Grants funds will target the City’s downtown area, including a former auto repair shop, dry cleaners, metal shop, and a vacant school. 

 “The City of La Junta and Inspiration Field (IF) are grateful for this grant to help transform big blights in our city into productive buildings that will benefit not only the City, but also the region,” said La Junta City Manager Rick Klein. We know that this will help the Developmentally Disabled community that IF serves.”  

 With the funding, the City of Lamar intends to conduct 24 environmental site assessments and develop five cleanup plans. Grant funds will be used to prepare a brownfield site inventory, conduct public meetings, provide outreach materials in Spanish, and provide Spanish language interpreters at public meetings. Priority sites include many up and down Main Street. This grant will continue the City’s successful work from a previous brownfields grant, which funded the assessment of the Troy Manor Motel, leading to its ultimate cleanup and demolition to prepare it for redevelopment. 

 “The City of Lamar is grateful for the opportunity to continue our efforts in conjunction with the EPA on our quest to help rid the city of hazardous and harmful toxins and waste. With the EPA’s help, Lamar has made great strides in assisting discoveries, cleaning up and planning for removal of hazardous structures and sites,” said Lamar City Administrator Robert Evans. We are very humbled and pleased that we have been chosen to receive this grant and will keep up the good efforts moving forward for our citizens and our city with this new grant.”   

 The Brownfields Program advances President Biden’s Justive40 Initiative, which aims to deliver at least 40 percent of the benefits of certain government programs to disadvantaged communities. Approximately 86 percent of the communities selected to receive funding as part of this announcement have proposed projects in historically underserved areas. EPA’s Brownfields grants and other technical assistance programs like the RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative are also helping to build the clean energy economy. 

 Today’s announcement includes approximately $180 million from the historic $1.5 billion investment from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help turn brownfield sites across the nation into hubs of economic growth and job creation, along with more than $75 million from fiscal year 2022 appropriations.   

 The funding includes: 

  • $112.8 million for 183 selectees for Assessment Grants, which will provide funding for brownfield inventories, planning, environmental assessments, and community outreach. 
  • $18.2 million for 36 selectees for Cleanup Grants, which will provide funding to carry out cleanup activities at brownfield sites owned by the recipient. 
  • $16.3 million for 17 selectees for Revolving Loan Fund grants that will provide funding for recipients to offer loans and subgrants to carry out cleanup activities at brownfield sites. 
  • $107 million for 39 high-performing Revolving Loan Fund Grant recipients to help communities continue their work to carry out cleanup and redevelopment projects on contaminated brownfield properties. Supplemental funding for Revolving Loan Fund Grants is available to recipients that have depleted their funds and have viable cleanup projects ready for work.  

 The list of selected applicants is available here: 

 Since its inception in 1995, EPA’s investments in brownfield sites have leveraged more than $35 billion in cleanup and redevelopment. This has led to significant benefits for communities across the country. For example: 

  • To date, this funding has led to more than 183,000 jobs in cleanup, construction, and redevelopment and more than 9,500 properties have been made ready for reuse.  
  • Based on grant recipient reporting, recipients leveraged on average $20.43 for each EPA Brownfields dollar and 10.3 jobs per $100,000 of EPA Brownfield Grant funds expended on assessment, cleanup, and revolving loan fund cooperative agreements. 
  • In addition, an academic peer-reviewed study has found that residential properties near brownfield sites increased in value by 5% to 15% as a result of cleanup activities. 
  • Finally, analyzing data near 48 brownfields, EPA found an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional tax revenue for local governments in a single year after cleanup—2 to 7 times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of those brownfield sites. 

 Additional Background 

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. Redevelopment made possible through the program includes everything from grocery stores and affordable housing to health centers, museums, greenways, and solar farms.     

 The next National Brownfields Training Conference will be held on August 16-19, 2022 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 (ICMA). 

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