Coalition formed to apply for up to $1M in brownfields funds

Greater Cincinnati's industrial history has left the region with a legacy of brownfield sites, abandoned or underutilized properties that are difficult to redevelop due to real or perceived environmental contamination.

In order to address the problem, the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority, the City of Cincinnati, and Hamilton County have formed a coalition to jointly apply for $1 million in U.S. EPA environmental assessment grants.

The option of applying as a coalition is new this year, allowing the groups to receive up to $600,000 more than they may have received by applying alone.

The coalition is targeting 28 sites - 18 for hazardous substance contamination and 10 for petroleum contamination.

"If the grant is awarded, we will form a Brownfield Assessment Working Group that will include coalition members and representatives of community-based organizations to solicit applications for environmental assessments and jointly make the final decision on which brownfields will be assessed under the grant," says Christine Russell, director of brownfield development for the Port.

Russell says that these environmental assessment funds are key to seeing where the development potential stands on these properties.

"Some of the major barriers to brownfield redevelopment are the unknown environmental and financial risks associated with a brownfield property," she says.  "This grant will allow us to quantify existing contamination and develop an estimated clean-up cost.  Developers or communities can then better evaluate the feasibility of a brownfield redevelopment project."

The grant is expected to be awarded in spring 2009.

A public meeting will be held in Norwood tomorrow at 6 PM at the Hamilton County Development Company, 1776 Mentor Avenue, Suite 100.

A draft of the grant application is on file at all branches of The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

Writer: Kevin LeMaster
Source: Christine Russell, director of brownfield development, Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority
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