LVEDC Gets Federal Grant for Brownfields Redevelopment in the Lehigh Valley
By Colin McEvoy on May 28, 2015
The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) has been awarded a $500,000 federal grant to assist with environmental assessments and site cleanup plans for abandoned and underutilized commercial and industrial properties in the Lehigh Valley, also known as brownfields.
LVEDC’s redevelopment committee, the Lehigh Valley Land Recycling Initiative (LVLRI), was selected for a competitive grant program by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It was one of only nine Pennsylvania communities, and only 147 communities in the nation, to receive a grant.
“Since 1998, LVLRI has successfully assisted public and private sector partners with the redevelopment of brownfield sites across the entire Lehigh Valley,” said Andrew Kleiner, LVEDC director of redevelopment and external affairs. “LVLRI has been recognized both regionally and nationally for the work it has accomplished. This new award will let us continue that work into the foreseeable future.”
LVEDC will manage the funds to assist brownfield redevelopment projects that come to fruition in the Lehigh Valley. It is estimated the funds will be used to conduct 16 Phase I and 15 Phase II environmental site assessments for properties throughout the Lehigh Valley, as well as to prepare up to 15 site cleanup plans and conduct community outreach activities, Kleiner said.
LVEDC last received an EPA brownfields grant in 2010, in the amount of $1 million. That grant enabled the organization to assist 42 different sites and remediate 310 acres of land. LVEDC also received brownfields grants in 2005, 2007 and 2008.
On May 28, 2015, the EPA announced the selection of 243 new brownfields grants totaling $54.3 million to communities across the United States. This investment will provide communities with funding necessary to assess, clean up and redevelop contaminated properties, boost local economies and leverage jobs while protecting public health and the environment.
LVEDC was the lead organization for the grant application, with coalition partners including the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton, and the counties of Lehigh and Northampton. John Lamirand, LVEDC’s research specialist, assisted Kleiner with preparing of the application.
The EPA awarded a total of $4.1 million in grants to Pennsylvania municipalities or organizations. The $500,000 LVEDC received matched the highest grant amount awarded to any entity in the state. Lackawanna County and the Westmoreland County Redevelopment Authority received the same amount.
“Brownfield sites – because of their locations and associated infrastructure advantages – are community assets and a key component of the Obama Administration’s efforts to provide tools to sustainably revitalize communities and foster economic development,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response.
“These communities have demonstrated a plan to leverage their grants and partnerships to achieve economic and environmental revitalization to meet their needs for jobs,” Stanislaus said. “The grants will help transform brownfield sites, such as former manufacturing and mill sites, into productive end uses which directly benefit community residents and create opportunities including increased housing options, recreational spaces, and jobs.”
Over the last 15 years, LVLRI has seen 3,000 acres of contaminated land remediated, over $400 million of leveraged funding based on years of successful EPA grant wins, and the creation of about 1,200 jobs.
LVLRI accomplishes brownfields redevelopment in several ways, including helping site owners and developers identify financial assistance for environmental assessment and remediation work at brownfield sites, and by assisting on technical matters such as grant/loan application preparation, environmental work plan preparation, and the completion of buyer/seller agreements.
Additionally, LVLRI serves as an intermediary between all parties involved in a brownfield transaction, and maintains an inventory of underutilized commercial/industrial properties throughout the Lehigh Valley. Fostering economic development while protecting human health and the environment is one way in which LVEDC works to support sustainable development.
The LVLRI is an advisory committee comprised of municipal officials from cities, boroughs and townships in both Lehigh and Northampton counties, as well as brownfield experts, regulatory agency representatives, private developers, engineers, and consultants.
Understanding Lehigh Valley Today, So We Can Affect Tomorrow
This column, written by LVEDC President and CEO Don Cunningham, originally appeared in Lehigh Valley Business on May 25, 2015. The only way to affect tomorrow is to underst[...]Continue to Next Page