BALTIMORE – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.) have announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded a grant in the amount of $200,000 to the City of Baltimore to assess how best to convert as many as seven brownfields sites in East and West Baltimore into green-spaces. A site is considered a brownfield if its use is being hampered by real or perceived contamination.
“Reclaiming brownfields is a forward looking way to improve public health and boost the economy in Baltimore City. This federal investment will create new opportunities for employment and recreation, which will enhance the quality of life for residents,” said Senator Cardin, a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “I look forward to seeing the continued success of brownfield reclamation projects in Baltimore and across the country.”
“By cleaning up Brownfield sites, we are turning blighted, abandoned tracts of land into economic assets,” said Senator Mikulski. “This funding will help Baltimore create jobs, put land back to use, and make a real difference in building our community. I will continue to fight for funding to clean up brownfields in Maryland and across the country.”
The funds will be managed by the Baltimore Office of Sustainability (BOS), part of the City’s Department of Planning. BOS intends to hire a part-time consultant with a background in brownfields, and start by holding large community meetings in East and West Baltimore to explain the process and identify sites to target. The end goal is for all of the sites to be redeveloped as part of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s Growing Green Initiative, which aims to transform vacant lots into new green spaces that will improve quality of life for residents.
“The Growing Green Initiative is my administration’s strategy to transform city-owned vacant lots into amenities like new parks, community managed open spaces, rain gardens, and orchards. Comprehensive assessment of these sites is an important first step, and we’re grateful to the EPA for their generous support of our efforts. We look forward to administering these funds in collaboration with our neighborhoods and partners to create green and vibrant spaces for citizens of Baltimore,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
Assessment grants provide funding for a grant recipient to inventory, characterize, assess, and conduct planning and community involvement related to brownfields sites. An eligible entity may apply for up to $200,000 to assess a site contaminated by hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants (including hazardous substances co-mingled with petroleum) and up to $200,000 to address a site contaminated by petroleum.
This funding will help communities clean up and reuse brownfield sites to produce community assets such as housing, recreation and open space, health facilities, create employment, education, social services, transportation options, infrastructure and commerce opportunities.
Communities selected this year demonstrated a high-level of preparedness to undertake specific projects as they have firm commitments of leveraged funds to move projects forward.
Since the inception of the EPA’s Brownfields Program in 1995, cumulative brownfield program investments have leveraged more than $22 billion from a variety of public and private sources for cleanup and redevelopment activities. This equates to an average of $17.79 leveraged per EPA brownfield dollar expended. These investments have resulted in approximately 105,942 jobs nationwide.