The city of Toledo will share $800,000 in federal Environmental Protection Agency grants with the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority and two other agencies to assist in cleaning up urban "brownfield" sites.
The award of the assessment grants, which are designed to clean up contaminated land, create jobs and protect public health, was announced Thursday in Toledo by Marty Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response.
In addition to the city and the Port Authority, the Lucas County Land Bank and Toledo Area Metroparks collaborated in the grant applications.
The money will be made available to the city in October to inventory and assess brownfield sites for petroleum contaminants and hazardous substances, a mandated step needed before cleanup and demolition can begin. Four urban neighborhoods have been targeted in the grants.
Mr. Stanislaus, who talked to reporters at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Plaza station, said the grants are part of President Obama's commitment to address environmental issues to stimulate economic development and spur growth.
"These sites are in America's downtowns. These sites offer the opportunities to rebuild those communities, to create jobs, and meet communities' needs," he said.
Among the urban neighborhoods targeted in the grants are properties on Central Avenue adjacent to the former Jeep factory site in central Toledo, and vacant land along the Anthony Wayne Trail that was once the Haughton Elevator Co.
Former industrial land and buildings near Smead Avenue and Dorr Street, and the Cherry Street and Summit Street corridors in North Toledo will get cleanup and inventory assessments under the grant proposal.
"This will benefit a large part of the city. The target areas along Cherry and Summit streets are certainly important to our neighborhoods," said Terry Glazer, chief executive officer of United North, a community development group serving the north end.
The brownfields sites are among 245 nationwide that EPA officials announced Thursday that will receive $69.3 million in funding to help clean up contaminated land.
The EPA estimates there are 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites in the United States. More than 18,000 properties have been assessed, and more than 700 properties have been cleaned up, with a focus on under-served and low-income neighborhoods.
Since its inception, the program has helped target more than $18.3 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funding from a variety of public and private sources and has generated about 75,500 jobs.
Joel Mazur, of Toledo's brownfield redevelopment office, said the new grant is the largest the city has received from the EPA dollar-wise to assess property for contaminants.
"This grant shows how well the community is working together to fill a void in the redevelopment process that the private side is reluctant to fund," Mr. Mazur said.
Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz, who is chairman of the county land bank board, said the program will use grant money to perform environmental assessments on condemned structures, which must be done before the buildings can be demolished.
He said the land bank program has secured $6.8 million dollars in state and local grants for demolition of vacant and abandoned houses. He said the EPA grant will go toward the planned demolition of nearly 800 homes between August and December, 2013 -- more than triple the number of structures that were torn down in 2011.
"With this influx of money for environmental assessments, hopefully we can stabilize the neighborhoods and stop the erosion of property values that we have seen over the last several years," Mr. Kapszukiewicz said.
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