EPA Brownfields Program
EPA’s Brownfields Program empowers states, communities, and other stakeholders to work together to prevent, assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse brownfields. A brownfield site is real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. In 2002, the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act was passed to help states and communities around the country clean up and revitalize brownfields sites. Under this law, EPA provides financial assistance to eligible applicants to assess and clean up brownfield sites.
Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Pilot Program
EPA is piloting an area-wide planning approach to community brownfield challenges, which recognizes that revitalization of the area surrounding the brownfield site(s) is just as critical to the successful reuse of the property as assessment, cleanup, and redevelopment of an individual site. The pilot program will help further community-based partnership efforts within underserved or economically disadvantaged neighborhoods by confronting local environmental and public health challenges related to brownfields, while creating a planning framework to advance economic development and job creation.
The EPA has selected the Borough of Monaca as a Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Pilot Program recipient. As one of the founding members of the Ohio River Trail Council, the Borough is working with partner communities and organizations to target four brownfields areas along the 45-mile Ohio River Corridor. The target areas are in the Borough of Monaca (population 6,286), the City of Aliquippa (population 3,760), Borough of Coraopolis (population 6,131), and Borough of Midland (population 3,137). The Corridor traditionally was the industrial heart of southwestern Pennsylvania, specifically for the production of steel. The decline of America’s manufacturing industry during the past decades has left many residents without jobs. The four target areas include more than 250 acres of land and 34 brownfields, which are primarily former steel mill-related and small-scale industrial lands. Poverty rates in the targeted Corridor are as high as 21 percent. The Ohio River Trail Council’s efforts in planning and community revitalization initiatives along the Ohio River Corridor will be complemented by the area-wide planning process, which will facilitate community involvement in site-specific brownfields cleanup and reuse plans based on environmental conditions and evaluate which sites have potential for new or increased public access to the river through trail connections.
The Ohio River Trail Council (ORTC) and our partner the Borough of Monaca, PA along with three of its partner municipalities, Aliquippa, Coraopolis and Midland has received a grant for a $175,000 EPA Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Program Grant and Assistance to advance our ongoing regional brownfields revitalization. The Borough of Monaca has served as a leader and one of the pioneer communities in the formation of the Ohio River Trail Council, a multi-municipal partnership organization of twenty-seven (27) municipalities and two counties in Southwestern Pennsylvania. These municipalities have joined to undertake a grass-roots effort to re-think the future of our communities as a way to overcome the loss of a major portion of our manufacturing base and the post-industrial brownfields legacy that remains from that loss.
The ORTC is comprised of local municipal elective officials, interested businesses, property owners, and community residents. The ORTC is undergoing other multi-municipal planning efforts with a focus on community revitalization planning, with a specific emphasis on capitalizing on our common interest in reconnecting all of our communities along the Ohio River. The Ohio River Corridor is a critical local and regional resource that calls for protection and enhancement. Our goal is to use the Ohio River Trail as a framework for redevelopment investment. The Council has undertaken several proactive planning and policy efforts, partly through the recommendations of regional and local planning initiatives, to advance expressed community goals, including the desire for increased access to and along the river corridor and the revitalization of the numerous blighted and/or under-utilized parcels or brownfields.
To reach the next level on the Ohio River Corridor Plan, Monaca will receive a combination of EPA funding, contract assistance, and collaboration to facilitate community involvement in area-wide planning approaches to brownfields assessment, cleanup and subsequent reuse. In addition, the connection of the Ohio River Corridor to other community facilities and investments will be evaluated and the development of a strategy for leveraging public and private resources.
For additional information regarding the study please visit www.ohioriverbrownfields.com.