Long-suffering Asbury Park, New Jersey will hopefully see some revitalizing progress soon, thanks to their portion of more than $250 million recently awarded across the country to 265 communities.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe and Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia were joined by U.S. Representative Frank Pallone and Asbury Park Mayor John Moor to highlight the important work to be conducted in Asbury Park, using part of this funding.
“Asbury Park will benefit from the powerful tool of brownfields, which helps overburdened communities in New Jersey address local inequities by providing a means to revitalize properties and promote environmental health, economic growth, and job creation,” said Garcia. “The Brownfields program transforms communities, and BIL gives the program a huge infusion of funding with a historic $1.5 billion dollars that will be leveraged to make a real and lasting on-the-ground difference for communities across the country.”
New Jersey communities received about $6.5 million of that money, including a $500,000 grant to the City of Asbury Park. The funding is in part from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides a total of $1.5 billion to advance environmental justice, spur economic revitalization, and create jobs by remediating contaminated, polluted, or hazardous brownfield properties.
A brownfield is a property for which the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Redevelopment made possible through the program includes everything from grocery stores and affordable housing to health centers, museums, greenways, and solar farms.
The City of Asbury Park will receive a $500,000 grant to clean up four sites on Springwood Avenue and Ridge Avenue. The four properties were used for commercial and residential purposes from 1905 to the early 2000s and have been vacant for the past two decades.
These sites are contaminated with fill containing harmful pollutants like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, metals, and volatile organic compounds. Grant funds for the four properties will also be used to conduct community outreach activities. In 2016, Asbury Park received a $400,000 Brownfields assessment grant, and since 1995, EPA has awarded $72,989,207 in Brownfields grants to entities in New Jersey.
The Brownfields Program advances President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to deliver at least 40 percent of the benefits of certain government programs to disadvantaged communities. Approximately 86 percent of the communities selected to receive funding as part of today’s announcement have proposed projects in historically underserved areas.
EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said, “EPA’s Brownfields Program breathes new life into communities by helping to turn contaminated and potentially dangerous sites into productive economic contributors. Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are significantly ramping up our investments in communities, with the bulk of our funding going to places that have been overburdened and underserved for far too long.”
Applicants selected for funding in New Jersey this year are:
- City of Asbury Park, Cleanup Grant of $500,000
- Camden Redevelopment Agency, Revolving Loan Fund Supplemental Grant of $3,500,000
- Hamilton Township, Cleanup Grant of $500,000
- New Jersey Economic Development Authority, Assessment Grant of $2,000,000 for projects statewide
Since its inception in 1995, EPA’s investments in brownfield sites have leveraged more than $35 billion in cleanup and redevelopment. This has led to significant benefits for communities across the country. For example:
- To date, this funding has led to more than 183,000 jobs in cleanup, construction, and redevelopment and more than 9,500 properties have been made ready for reuse.
- Based on grant recipient reporting, recipients leveraged on average $20.43 for each EPA Brownfields dollar and 10.3 jobs per $100,000 of EPA Brownfields Grant funds expended on assessment, cleanup, and revolving loan fund cooperative agreements.
- In addition, an academic peer-reviewed study has found that residential properties near brownfield sites increased in value by 5% to 15% as a result of cleanup activities.
- Finally, analyzing data near 48 brownfields, EPA found an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional tax revenue for local governments in a single year after cleanup—2 to 7 times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of those brownfields sites.
“The City of Asbury Park is grateful to be the recipient of a $500,000 EPA Brownfields Clean Up Grant,” said Mayor John Moor, “This grant complements previous EPA Brownfield and Petroleum assessment grants we received which allowed us to do the necessary research and soil testing required to determine and assess contamination. We look forward to cleaning up these lots and putting them back into productive use.”
other leaders were unanimous in their praise for this regenerative funding:
Senator Cory Booker said: “During my time as Mayor and as Senator, I have seen firsthand how the Brownfields program revitalizes communities. I am proud that the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is delivering significant investment in restoring brownfield sites across New Jersey. These federal dollars will protect the health and well-being of communities and promote unrealized economic opportunity.”
Senator Bob Menendez said: “I have long championed critical federal programs like Brownfields and Superfund that help clean up contaminated waste sites, and I’m proud to have helped secure this funding in the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Today’s announcement will help communities across the state not only protect the environment and improve public health, but also spur new growth and economic opportunity for residents. I thank the Biden Administration for their continued support for our families and their steadfast commitment to environmental justice for underserved communities and communities of color that too often shoulder the burden of legacy pollution.”
Rep. Frank Pallone said: “It’s great to be in Asbury Park today to highlight the federal funding the town will receive to clean up Brownfield sites. Thanks to this funding, the community will be able to repurpose the land and return it to good use. These funds, predominantly from our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will allow families across New Jersey to rest a little easier knowing that some of the most contaminated sites in their area will soon be cleaned up, revitalized, and generating new jobs and economic opportunities. I’m grateful to EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe, EPA Region 2 Administrator Lisa Garcia, and everyone else who joined us today. Together with the Biden Administration, Congress has been able to prioritize the Brownfields program, and I’ll keep fighting to ensure every community – particularly those that have been historically overlooked and underserved – receives the resources they need.”
“Our path toward continued, equitable economic growth is paved by the steps we take today to clean up and cultivate a healthy, safe environment,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. “This funding will allow New Jersey to transform brownfields into vibrant, productive assets, especially in under-resourced communities. Investments in the remediation of these sites are investments in future opportunities for all New Jersey residents and businesses.”
“Economic development and environmental protection go hand-in-hand, and in New Jersey, the EPA Brownfields Community-wide Assessment Grant serves as a vital resource for revitalizing vacant properties,” said New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette. “For too long, financial barriers have prevented entities from developing contaminated sites due to the limited funding available for site assessments, planning, and cleanup. Today’s funding announcement will allow the DEP and the EDA to increase current programmatic efforts to redevelop and remediate contaminated sites, sparking community-wide economic revitalization and furthering Governor Murphy’s commitment to a stronger and fairer New Jersey economy and environment.”
Photo of Asbury Park Theatre by 1778011 from Pixabay.