EPA awards $200K Brownfields grant to support cleanup and redevelopment of vacant school property in Dinosaur

Grant will allow for removal of environmental contaminants and enable development of a new Community Center

Joe Moylan/Craig Press File Photo

DINOSAUR | The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is awarding the Town of Dinosaur, Colorado a $200,000 Brownfields cleanup grant to address environmental contamination at the Dinosaur School on 401 West Fourth St. The Town is among 149 communities selected to receive grant awards totaling $64,623,553 million in EPA Brownfields funding through our Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup (MAC) grant programs.

The Town of Dinosaur will use the EPA grant to clean up a nine-acre site that includes a 15,000-square-foot school building surrounded by partially paved areas, a playground, a baseball field, and a basketball court. The building was constructed in 1962 and has been vacant for more than a decade. The Town recently had an environmental assessment completed of the property through the EPA Targeted Brownfields Assessment program, which identified various contaminants of concern, including metals, PCBs, and inorganic materials. Following cleanup, the Town intends to redevelop the property as a community center that will host various community events, including holiday celebrations, Boys & Girls Club activities, summer school, meal programs, senior activities, and a food pantry.

“These grants fulfill several of President Trump’s top priorities simultaneously: helping communities in need transform contaminated sites into community assets that not only create jobs and jumpstart economic development but also improve public health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “We are targeting these funds to areas that need them the most. Approximately 40 percent of the selected recipients are receiving Brownfields grants for the first time, which means we are reaching areas that may have previously been neglected, and 108 of the selected communities have identified sites or targeted areas for redevelopment that fall within Opportunity Zones.”

“EPA Brownfields grants are helping Colorado communities address environmental hazards and create new amenities that bring people together,” said EPA Regional Administrator Gregory Sopkin. “We look forward to the cleanup of the former Dinosaur School property and its revitalization as a much-needed community center.”

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. There are estimated to be more than 450,000 brownfields in the U.S. As of May 2019, under the EPA Brownfields Program 30,153 properties have been assessed, and 86,131 acres of idle land have been made ready for productive use. In addition, communities have been able to use Brownfields grants to leverage 150,120 jobs and more than $28 billion of public and private funding.

Grants awarded by EPA’s Brownfield 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 have been 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.

One hundred and eight communities selected for grants this year have identified sites or targeted areas in census tracts designated as federal Opportunity Zones. An Opportunity Zone is an economically-distressed community where new investment, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment

List of applicants selected for funding: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/applicants-selected-fy19-brownfields-multipurpose-assessment-and-cleanup-grants

EPA booklet: “Brownfields: Properties with New Purpose, Improving Local Economies in Communities with Brownfield Sites” https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2019-06/documents/bf_booklet.pdf

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

Special to the Herald Times