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EPA Awards $300,000 to Revitalize Blighted Properties in Hawai‘i

April 25, 2018, 9:19 AM HST · Updated April 26, 10:08 AM
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File image. Maui Now

Today, the US Environmental Protection Agency selected 144 communities nationwide for Brownfields environmental assessment, revolving loan fund and cleanup grants. The City and County of Honolulu, Hawaiʻi will receive $300,000 as part of the award funding.

“EPA’s Brownfields Program expands the ability of communities to recycle vacant and abandoned properties for new, productive reuses, using existing infrastructure,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “These grants leverage other public and private investments, and improve local economies through property cleanup and redevelopment.”

The 221 grants totaling $54.3 million will provide communities with funding to assess, clean up and redevelop underutilized properties while protecting public health and the environment.

“Brownfields projects expertly combine community needs, redevelopment and environmental protection,” said Alexis Strauss, Acting Regional Administrator for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest office. “In communities throughout the Pacific Southwest, these funds are a welcome catalyst to address underutilized properties and ensure public health is protected.”

Honolulu’s Brownfields grant will be used to conduct environmental assessments of properties along the future 20-mile Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit rail corridor. The grant will support the community-based transit-oriented development plans created by the city, which aim to enhance housing and job growth along the transit corridor, revitalize existing communities and preserve and develop affordable housing.  The Brownfields funding will leverage the considerable planning and outreach already conducted within the transit-oriented development areas and will focus on these seven areas: Iwilei, Kapalama, Kalihi, Middle Street, Pearlridge, Waipahu, and West Loch.

“We’re excited to be selected for a U.S. EPA Brownfields assessment grant,” said Harrison Rue, Community Building and Transit-Oriented Development Administrator, City and County of Honolulu. “Our current EPA funding has supported 15 assessments to help landowners determine whether and how much contamination is present, and what needs to be done to clean it up. This new grant will allow us to continue getting our legacy and industrial neighborhoods ready for transit-oriented development.”

The Brownfields program targets economically disadvantaged communities and provides funding and assistance to transform contaminated sites into assets that can generate jobs and spur economic growth. A study of 48 Brownfields sites found that an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional tax revenue was generated for local governments 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. Another study found that property values of homes near revitalized Brownfields sites increased between 5 and 15 percent following cleanup.

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Communities can use Brownfields funding to leverage considerable infrastructure and other financial resources. For example, EPA’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund can be used to address the water quality aspects of brownfield sites and the assessment and construction of drinking water infrastructure on Brownfields, respectively. EPA’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program may also serve as a potential source of long-term, low-cost supplemental financing to fund Brownfields project development and implementation activities to address water quality aspects of Brownfields.

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