Bringing New Life to Languishing Land
EPA’s Brownfields Program works with communities, local government, states, tribes and others to assess and safely clean abandoned properties, empty lots, and places left contaminated by past use so that they can begin a new life.
Brownfields are a way of unleashing the potential that’s locked up in a community’s land by cleaning up sites and empowering communities to put them to good, smart, safe uses that meet the needs of local residents.
Our Brownfields Program is now 20 years old and over its lifetime, for every dollar invested, we’ve seen between $17 and $18 leveraged in other public and private dollars. All told, EPA Brownfields funding has leveraged over $23 billion in other private and public funding for the cleanup and redevelopment of these sites.
The program helps catalyze the transformation of languishing pieces of land that were once written off, into vibrant community resources for recreation, jobs, and development. Here are a few of our success stories:
From a Vacant Lot to Helping Veterans
From 1875 until 1962 Malleable Castings Company Works in Indianapolis, Indiana was an iron works foundry. The site became contaminated with PCBs and arsenic. When the iron works foundry closed, the site was left vacant.
In 2012, the city of Indianapolis received a $200,000 Brownfields Cleanup Grant, along with additional funding from a public private partnership to cleanup and redevelop the site.
Today, the site is home to Lincoln Apartments, a 75-unit supportive housing community for homeless veterans with a computer lab, multi-purpose room, a conference room, day lounge, and access to services.
A Vacant Lot Becomes Home to Affordable Health Care
Once a general store, then equipment storage. Eventually several lots along Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Tacoma, Washington’s Hilltop Neighborhood became vacant because of fears the properties had become contaminated by nearby gas stations.
In the early 2000s, Community Health Care (CHC) was looking for a larger facility and this area was ideally located. With the assistance of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, the organization acquired the property and applied for an EPA Targeted Brownfields Assessment Grant.
We started evaluating the site with our contractors in April 2011 by taking soil bores and setting up temporary ground monitoring wells. By September we concluded that the site had no contamination and development could begin.
With grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration and the State of Washington, as well as a loan from the City of Tacoma, CHC began construction of their new clinic in September 2012.
Today, this site is home to CHC’s Hilltop Regional Health Center, a three-story facility that includes medical and dental clinics, a primary care medical residency program, a pharmacy, specialty medical services, internal medicine and obstetrics, pediatrics and urgent care services.
Once a Dumping Ground, Now a Park
In the 1980s and 1990s the site at 100 Sandy Bottom Road in Coventry, Rhode Island was used as a dumping ground for construction debris: asphalt spoils, concrete, rock, soil, machine parts and metal, and more. This refuse piled up on the property, creating a mess and releasing contaminants into the environment.
The town of Coventry acquired the site in 2000 with a dream of creating an open, green space in the middle of the town. With funding from EPA’s Brownfields Program, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the town began assessing and cleaning up the site in 2010.
Today the site is called Sandy Acres Recreation Area and is a 20 acre park where visitors can enjoy fishing on the Pawtuxet River and learn about local wildlife.
Helping to reclaim land that had become vacant, blighted, or contaminated is one of the ways we’re working to improve communities across the country. That’s EPA Forward.