Brownfields Assessment Program
The Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Community-Wide Coalition Brownfields Assessment Program
Sometimes the mere possibility of contamination on a site presents an environmental stigma and is enough to prevent redevelopment of the property. Technically called Brownfields, these parcels often are abandoned or underutilized sites. They become a burden to the community in the form of unpaid property taxes, illegal dumping, unmaintained buildings, and a potential for future environmental health risks. The effort to investigate the presence of contamination and estimate any clean up costs can be overwhelming.
With the help of federal funding, though, hundreds of Brownfields redevelopment projects across the state and country are helping to improve the quality of life for local communities, including higher property values, improved employment opportunities, a larger and more economically stable customer base, as well as better access to transportation, health care, schools and fresh foods.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded a $1 million Brownfield Assessment Coalition Grant to Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and its Coalition Partners; the cities of Bradenton, North Port, Palmetto, Sarasota, and Venice, as well as Sarasota and Manatee counties, to help identify pollutants on publicly and privately owned properties and to develop cleanup and/or reuse plans if contamination is found. The EPA’s grant is comprised of two parts: $700,000 to be used for sites with potential petroleum substances. $300,000 to be used for sites with other potentially hazardous substances
With the use of federal and state funding, and the suggestions from area stakeholders, the Sarasota/Manatee MPO and its Coalition Partners will provide property owners and developers technical assistance to help with community outreach, site identification, assessment, cleanup planning.
Typical sites that might be eligible for funding are former gas stations, dry cleaners, junk yards, automotive repair shops, and others.
The EPA Brownfields Program Produces Widespread
Environmental and Economic Benefits
EPA’s Brownfields Program empowers states, communities, and other stakeholders to work together to prevent, assess, safely cleanup, and sustainably reuse brownfields. Revitalizing brownfield sites creates benefits at the site and throughout the community.
Leveraging Money for Assessment, Cleanup and Revitalization of Brownfields
Based on data from grantee reporting and through the Program’s ACRES database, through fiscal year 2011, on average, $18.29 is leveraged for each EPA Brownfields dollar expended at a brownfield from Assessment, Cleanup, and Revolving Loan Fund cooperative agreements since Program inception.
Leveraging Jobs from EPA Brownfields Dollars Spent to Assess, Clean and
Based on data through fiscal year 2011, on average, 7.43 jobs are leveraged per $100,000 of EPA Brownfields funding expended on Assessment, Cleanup and Revolving Loan Fund cooperative agreements since program inception. As of January 2012, 74,557 jobs have been leveraged through the Brownfields Program including the State and Tribal 128(a) program since its inception.
Environmental (Air and Water) Benefits of Brownfields Redevelopment
The EPA Brownfields Program has conducted five pilot studies, which concluded that redeveloped brown- field sites tend to have greater location efficiency than alternative development scenarios at greenfield sites, resulting in a 32 to 57 percent reduction in vehicle miles traveled associated with these sites and a reduction in air pollution emissions, including greenhouse gases. These same site comparisons show an estimated 47 to 62 percent reduction in stormwater runoff. The studies suggest a range of impacts due to regional variation in development and travel patterns.
Additional Benefits of Brownfields Redevelopment
The EPA Brownfields Program has funded a study to assess the impact, or economic benefit, of Brownfields grants on residential property values. The study concluded that residential property values increased between 2 and 3 percent once a nearby brownfield was assessed or cleaned up. The study further concluded that cleaning up a brownfield can increase overall property values within a one mile radius by $0.5 to $1.5 million. Additionally, initial anecdotal surveys indicate a reduction in crime in recently revitalized brownfield areas.
Opportunity to Expand Assessment Program and Leverage from Benefits of
Agency’s Removal Program
As is apparent from the numbers, there is a huge demand for site assessment work. The Program can expand upon recent policy clarifications to use site assessment dollars for environmental site assessments in conjunction with efforts to promote area-wide planning among areas and corridors of brownfield sites. The use of funds for these purposes is particularly important for economically distressed areas to enable the identification of infrastructure capacity along with potential end uses. Also, in certain instances when environmental site assessments reveal immediate threats to the environment or human health, a more programmatic use of EPA Removal funds to address these threats could be implemented.