July 2, 2012 -- 1:45 p.m.
The City of Valdosta has closed out its Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields Assessment Grant, effective June 30, 2012. This $400,000 grant, awarded in July 2009 for a period of three years, allowed the city to identify, prioritize, and assess brownfield sites throughout our community.
A brownfield is a property in which the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. EPA's Brownfields Program empowers states, communities, and other stakeholders to work together to prevent, assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse brownfields.
Funding for this grant was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Valdosta was the only Georgia community to be funded by EPA with ARRA funds within the 6-state Region 4.
The Brownfields Assessment Grant project included four tasks. The first task was community outreach, whereby the city held three public meetings, several Brownfields Steering Committee meetings, and periodic project updates utilizing the City Beat and Planners Post newsletters, the city’s local government access cable channel and other modes of public information.
The second task was the identification of the brownfield sites. Over the course of two windshield surveys, 43 brownfield sites were identified, nearly all within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Designated Revitalization Area and the City of Valdosta’s Urban Redevelopment Area. This list of sites now serves as the official City of Valdosta Brownfields Inventory.
The Brownfields inventory was then prioritized by the Brownfields Steering Committee for environmental research and testing, known as Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs), which comprised the third task of this project. Five Phase I ESAs were completed on the prioritized sites, after receiving permission and confidentiality agreements from each site owner. Next, Phase II Environmental Assessments were completed on three sites: 400 E. Hill Avenue, 700 S. Patterson Street, and the South Ashley Street Properties (515-517 S. Ashley Street and 307 Lee Street Lane). The purpose of these assessments was to determine, through historical research and actual soil, groundwater, and building testing, if the sites were contaminated with either petroleum or hazardous chemicals. The results of the assessments revealed that no significant contamination existed at any of the three sites.
The final task was planning for the actual clean up and redevelopment of the properties. However, because the testing revealed the properties as having no significant contamination, no clean-up planning is needed. Redevelopment planning has been completed and includes the creation of conceptual renderings for each site by the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation and conceptual redevelopment site plans by Lovell Engineering Associates P.C.
All of the tasks and goals associated with the Brownfields Assessment Grant project were met. Project accomplishments include: the creation of an official Valdosta Brownfields Inventory; completed Phase I and II ESAs on prioritized sites; the entering of all data findings into the national Assessment, Cleanup, and Redevelopment Exchange System (ACRES, a U.S. EPA database system), a finding of no significant contamination present on each of the project’s three Phase II sites, and the creation of creative redevelopment concepts for each site, making these sites available immediately for redevelopment. In addition, these three sites are eligible for Enterprise Zone and Opportunity Zone incentives through the City of Valdosta.
For more information on this grant program, please visit the City of Valdosta’s brownfields webpage at http://www.valdostacity.com/Index.aspx?page=420, or contact Special Projects/Historic Preservation Planner Emily Foster at (229) 259-3563 or firstname.lastname@example.org.