HR Green Helps City of Waterloo, IA Secure $400,000 in Grants to Clean Up Brownfields
Proprietary GIS Model Plays Key Role in the Process
(CEDAR RAPIDS) – As part of HR Green’s ongoing commitment to helping communities leverage Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funding for brownfields assessments and cleanup, the company announced today that it has helped the city of Waterloo, IA secure two more EPA grants totaling $400,000. Since 2000, HR Green’s efforts have secured for the city a total of $2.65 million in grants and loans.
The EPA defines a brownfield as a property whose redevelopment or expansion may be complicated by presence of a hazardous material or contaminant. The EPA estimates there are more than 450,000 so-called brownfields in the U.S.
HR Green helps communities compete for both property assessment and securement grants to make the properties productive again. In this instance, the grants consisted of $200,000 for assessment of sites potentially contaminated by petroleum and $200,000 for assessment of sites potentially contaminated by hazardous substances.
Waterloo was only one of six entities in EPA Region 7, which consists of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska, to receive a portion of the $1.8 million in funding from the EPA’s Brownfields Program. The purpose of these funds is to conduct environmental assessments or cleanup of vacant or abandoned properties so they can be returned to new and productive uses. Since the initiative began, HR Green has helped various communities nationwide secure 60 EPA grants totaling over $15 million.
Many communities find the lingering perception of contamination creates a stigma which makes it difficult to redevelop these properties. Assessment activities help communities identify and provide redevelopment assistance to remove the stigma.
Ultimately, reinvesting in these neglected properties directly benefits the community. These benefits include providing increases to the local tax base, eventual job growth, reduced pressure to develop on agricultural land but still develop green spaces important to health and the environment.
Waterloo’s aggressive approach to identifying potential brownfields involves taking inventory of blighted properties that pose an immediate health or safety risk for nearby residents. City staff also works with local agents interested in rehabilitating specific sites that require environmental investigations.
HR Green is able to supplement these efforts using a proprietary Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Prioritization Model and combining it with input from environmental professionals and local stakeholders prioritize property redevelopment.
The benefits of this process are twofold. It allows HR Green to determine which sites are most likely to cause environmental concerns and it can evaluate properties for future development.
By using multiple tools to prioritize the sites, HR Green not only helps clients secure funding, but it also creates planning and redevelopment strategies consistent with the community’s vision as they move through the process of redeveloping brownfields sites.