Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced four grant recipients in Mississippi have been selected to receive awards totaling $1,464,000 to assess and clean up contaminated properties under the agency’s Brownfields program. Recipients include the City of Canton ($300,000), the City of Vicksburg ($300,000), the Three Rivers Planning and Development District Inc. for work in New Albany, Pontiac and Tupelo ($600,000), and the West Point Consolidated School District for work in Cedar Bluff ($264,000).

“These grants will provide the selected communities in Mississippi with resources to clean up contaminated lands and return them to productive use,” said Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker. “Overall, Brownfields funding provides communities with an opportunity to convert contaminated sites into community assets that will attract jobs, encourage partnerships and achieve broader economic development outcomes,”

“Embarking on projects that have potential to uplift communities with a cleaner environment and potential jobs is uplifting in these times of economic distress. Region 4 Administrator Mary Walker has been a good-faith partner in helping Mississippi, and I believe each of these communities will benefit from her leadership as these brownfield grants are put to work,” said U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), who serves on the Senate Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee.

“Brownfield grants are an important resource for communities to protect the health and safety of their residents, while making potentially contaminated property suitable for development and re-use,” said U.S. Senator Roger F. Wicker (R-Miss.). “I appreciate EPA Administrator Wheeler and Region 4 Administrator Walker for their continued commitment to this program.”

“I am pleased that the cities of Canton and Vicksburg were selected to be Brownfields Grant recipients, and I thank the EPA for the great work they are doing in Mississippi,” said Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (MS-02). “These grants will help empower the communities of Canton and Vicksburg to safely evaluate and rehab unused spaces for commercial use. During this challenging time in our country, the Brownfield Assessment Grant announcement is great news for my congressional district and represents the economic comeback that is sure to take place following the COVID-19 pandemic. I look forward to seeing how this initiative will help repurpose these areas for expanded economic development in my district.”

“We are proud of the successes we have had in Mississippi in working with communities and EPA to obtain Brownfields grants that make a difference in revitalizing previously underused properties. Since 2006, Mississippi has been awarded more than 40 Brownfield grants worth over $16 Million that have put back into use more than 2,000 acres,” said Chris Wells, Interim Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) Executive Director. “The grants announced this year will improve the environment as well as help boost the economy of these local communities. Our success this year is a result of the hard work of our community leaders, their grant writing staffs, and the staff of MDEQ’s Brownfield Program.”

The Mississippi grantees are among 155 grants that will be awarded for communities and tribes totaling over $65.6 million in EPA brownfields funding through the agency’s Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grant Programs. These funds will aid under-served and economically disadvantaged communities, including neighborhoods located in Opportunity Zones, in assessing and cleaning up abandoned industrial and commercial properties. An Opportunity Zone is an economically-distressed community where new investment, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment. Of the communities selected this year, 118 can potentially assess or clean up brownfield sites in census tracts designated in these zones. In addition, nearly 30% of the communities selected today will receive brownfields funding for the first time.

The grant recipients in Mississippi include:

 The City of Canton will receive a $300,000 Brownfields Assessment Grant. Community-wide grant funds will be used to conduct eight to 10 Phase I and 10 Phase II environmental site assessments, develop and update a GIS-based site inventory, and conduct community outreach activities, including annual community meetings. The target areas include The Hollow, which is a historic district within a Qualified Opportunity Zone, and the Highway 51 Corridor, which is subject to significant flooding events. Priority sites include a former cotton gin, former commercial sites that operated as filling stations and are owned by the Canton Redevelopment Authority (CRA), dry cleaners, light industrial businesses, and the former Hickory Street Theater, all within The Hollow target area; and an abandoned industrial site within the Highway 51 Corridor. Grant funds also will be used to develop cleanup plans for the former cotton gin site and the former Hickory Street Theater and reuse plans for the former commercial sites owned by the CRA.

“As Mayor of the City of Canton, Mississippi, I would like to convey our sincerest appreciation to the U.S. EPA for recognizing our brownfield redevelopment efforts with this latest Brownfield Assessment Grant award. We’ve been recognized for our tremendous strides in the assessment and revitalization of Saab Park and hope to carry that momentum into additional work needed in and around The Hollow and the Highway 51 commercial corridor,” said Mayor Dr. William Truly, Jr. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with EPA as we move into the next phase of brownfield redevelopment within our community.”.

 The City of Vicksburg will receive a $300,000 Brownfields Assessment Grant. Community-wide grant funds will be used to conduct seven Phase I and five Phase II environmental site assessments, develop and update a GIS-based site inventory, hold annual community meetings, and conduct community outreach activities. Assessment activities will focus on the City’s Historic and Riverfront District and Clay Street Corridor, which both include Qualified Opportunity Zones. Priority sites include the former Mercy Hospital, for which grant funds will be used to develop a cleanup plan, and the former YMCA building, for which grant funds will be used to develop a cleanup plan and a reuse plan. Other priority sites include the Klondyke Gas Station, the historic YMCA building, a former dry cleaner, and the former Vicksburg Body Shop.

“The City of Vicksburg is excited to continue our partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency with this latest Brownfield Assessment Grant award. With EPA grant assistance in 2016 and 2017, we combined resources to remove the blight of the Kuhn Memorial Hospital last year,” said Mayor George Flaggs, Jr. “City leadership earlier this year approved its transformation into greenspace and walking trails. Building upon the foundation laid with our previous EPA Brownfield Grants, we hope to bring additional reinvestment and redevelopment to our City, setting a standard of brownfield excellence for Mississippi and the Southeast for years to come.”

 The Three Rivers Planning and Development District will receive a $600,000 Brownfields Assessment Coalition Grant for work in New Albany, Pontotoc and Tupelo. Community-wide grant funds will be used to conduct 20 to 30 Phase I and 12 to 16 Phase II environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to hold 12 public meetings, distribute fact sheets and news briefings, publish a web-based GIS map of the brownfields inventory, and develop five cleanup plans. Coalition partners are the Cities of New Albany, Pontotoc, and Tupelo. Priority sites include the Carr Oil Property and Tallahatchie River Property in New Albany; the former Sanitary Landfill in Pontotoc; and the Former Block Corporation Textile Mill, which is located within one of Tupelo’s Qualified Opportunity Zones.

“We are very excited to receive the $600,000.00 Brownfield grant for our region. It is so important for our area to have not only the monetary assistance, but to know that the EPA wants to assist in helping us locate and remedy potential sites,” said Pontotoc Mayor Bob Peeples-Mayor. “We all prosper when different agencies work together for the common good.”

 The West Point Consolidated School District in will receive a $264,000 Brownfields Cleanup Grant to clean up four vacant buildings on the West Clay Elementary School campus located at 450 Joe Stevens Road in Cedar Bluff. The buildings include a former gymnasium, a former cafeteria and two former residential properties that were constructed between 1930 and 1960. While the buildings have remained vacant over the past ten years, they share a property with the West Clay Elementary School which serves approximately 135 students. The buildings are contaminated with hazardous substances and inorganic contaminants. Grant funds also will be used to conduct community outreach and cleanup planning activities.

“We are so excited to receive this grant to clean up some old buildings at West Clay Elementary. Our staff, students, parents, and community will be excited to have the old buildings removed,” said Brad Cox, West Clay Elementary School Principal. “Our campus will look better, be safer, and our students will have more room to play. We are so grateful.”

 Background

Grants awarded by EPA’s Brownfields Program provide communities across the country with an opportunity to transform contaminated sites into community assets that attract jobs and achieve broader economic development outcomes, while taking advantage of existing infrastructure. For example, brownfields grants are shown to:

  • Increase Local Tax Revenue: A study of 48 brownfields sites found that an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional local tax revenue was generated 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.
  • Increase Residential Property Values: Another study found that property values of homes near revitalized brownfields sites increased between 5% and 15% following cleanup.

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. There are estimated to be more than 450,000 brownfields in the United States. EPA’s Brownfields Program began in 1995 and has provided nearly $1.6 billion in brownfield grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return blighted properties to productive reuse. To date, brownfields investments have leveraged more than $31 billion in cleanup and redevelopment. Over the years, the relatively small investment of federal funding, from both public and private sources, leveraged more than 160,000 jobs.

The next National Brownfields Training Conference will be held on April 26-30, 2021, 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.

List of the FY 2020 applicants selected for funding: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/applicants-selected-fy-2020-brownfields-assessment-revolving-loan-fund-and-cleanup-0

For more on the brownfields grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types-brownfields-grant-funding

For more on EPA’s Brownfields Program: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields

For more information about EPA’s role in Opportunity Zones: https://www.epa.gov/opportunity-zones

For information on the studies related to the Brownfields Program’s environmental and economic benefits: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-program-environmental-and-economic-benefits

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Release from EPA.