In Arizona, Cochise County is asking property owners, redevelopers, and members of the public to nominate underutilized sites that could be transformed from devitalizing liabilities into revitalizing community assets.
Following the award of a $600,000 grant in 2019 through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields Assessment Program, the County launched a new website designed to educate the public about the program and to spur community revitalization. The website is also where property owners or citizens can begin the application process to have a site considered for an environmental site assessment.
A brownfield site is a property where development, expansion, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.
The County has formed a coalition with the cities of Sierra Vista, Bisbee, and Douglas to establish a program to engage the community and create an inventory of sites.
The EPA grant, being managed by the County with assistance from an environmental consulting team led by Stantec, will be used to inventory and prioritize brownfield sites for redevelopment, assess existing site conditions, and plan for cleanup and reuse.
“The goal is to transform blighted areas into thriving neighborhoods by helping to remove the barriers to redevelopment,” said Cochise County Development Services Director Dan Coxworth.
“This grant will help to address unknown site conditions and create shovel ready sites, while also protecting public health and the environment. We are now at the stage where we need to hear from the public about potential sites,” he added.
The grant will be used to assess selected properties initially in Bisbee, Douglas and Sierra Vista, but if funding is available other locations in Cochise County could be considered, including in unincorporated areas.
The website contains a wealth of information, including fact sheets, a site assessment guide, brownfield site examples, FAQs, videos, and a site nomination form.
A community-based advisory committee will also be formed to help with the process and public meetings will be held for citizen input.
Photo courtesy of Cochise County.