County gets brownfield grant

The Sheboygan County Planning & Conservation Department has received a $300,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for brownfields assessment, the second such grant it has been awarded.

The funding will build upon a grant currently under way that was awarded in 2014 for $400,000.

Brownfields are properties that can be found in nearly every community and are problematic for a few reasons.

The largest and most prominent type of brownfields is former industrial properties, such as old factories.

However, a wide variety of land uses, from former gas stations to laundromats and beyond, can be brownfields sites as well.

Not only do these properties pose possible health risks, but they also cost communities money in terms of lost revenue. Developers that may have found a pristine property along the Sheboygan River may choose to build in another county once they realize the property is a brownfield.

Determining what, if any, contamination is present on a property, followed by cleanup work and further state or federal approvals, can add significant cost and time expenditures for a project.

EPA brownfields grants provide an exciting opportunity for communities to make redevelopment easier and more appealing.

Both the current grant under way and the newly-announced 2017 grant fund environmental site assessments that can determine where and what kind of contamination is present.

Plans to address the contamination can be developed at a site-specific level, bringing the properties that much closer to cleanup and construction.

The 2014 brownfields grant for Sheboygan County, which will wrap up this fall, is responsible for helping to facilitate redevelopment already at several properties in the area.

Most noticeable is the former Boston Store property in downtown Sheboygan, which was recently transformed into green space and apartments.

The upcoming 2017 grant gives Sheboygan County the opportunity to expand upon this work by targeting a new round of properties.

The grant will focus primarily on a formerly industrial area of the city of Sheboygan, which has been targeted for redevelopment for a number of years.

Funds can be spent elsewhere in the county so residents are welcome to contact the Sheboygan County Planning & Conservation Department with input or suggestions.

“This generous award by the Environmental Protection Agency truly reflects Sheboygan County’s commitment to making our community a better place,” Sheboygan County Planning, Resources, Agriculture, and Extension Committee Chairman Keith Abler said. “Not only does it address the environmental effects of brownfields, but it opens our doors to all sorts of new opportunities – ones that are sure to fill our municipalities with vibrant, flourishing neighborhoods.”

For more information, contact Emily Stewart at 920-459- 3060 or Emily.stewart@sheboygancounty.com.


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