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Council Bluffs receives funding to continue Brownfields Program

Council Bluffs receives funding to continue Brownfields Program

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Battery Factory Brownfield.jpg

The former Reliance Battery Factory is an example of a potential brownfield in Council Bluffs. Founded in the 1920s, it was once a booming battery manufacturing company. The city’s South End gradually developed around. Today, it sits vacant and surrounded by a residential neighborhood.

The City of Council Bluffs announced Thursday that the city’s Brownfields Program continues thanks to new funding from the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

The program is funded through an EPA Community-Wide Brownfields Assessment Grant and will allow the city to inventory, characterize, assess and conduct cleanup and reuse planning activities on brownfield sites, the city said in a release.

“If you’ve ever wondered why abandoned warehouses, factories, or businesses remain uninhabited, it might be because the property is a brownfield,” the city said in the release, noting that a brownfield is property for which the expansion, redevelopment or reuse is complicated by environmental contamination that is either real or perceived. The EPA estimates that there are more than 450,000 brownfields in the country.

“Since its inception in 1995, EPA’s Brownfields Program has grown into a proven, results-oriented program that has changed the way communities address and manage potentially environmentally impaired property,” the city said, adding that cleaning up and reinvesting in brownfields increases the local tax base, facilitates job growth, utilizes existing infrastructure and improves and protects the environment.

“We are thankful to have received new funding from the EPA,” said Dessie Redmond, City of Council Bluffs housing and economic development planner. “Through our Brownfields Program, we will inventory potential brownfields, conduct environmental site assessments, and make plans for cleanup and reuse.”

According to the city:

The Council Bluffs Brownfields Program will focus primarily on the South Expressway Corridor. A previous EPA grant received in 2013 indicated several brownfields within the general vicinity of the South Expressway Corridor. This area also houses parts of the city’s Qualified Opportunity Zones, which allows the potential for tax incentives on investments designed to spur economic development and job creation. The Brownfields Program will identify potential hazards, remove perceptions of contamination, prepare for remediation and create local redevelopment opportunities.

Go to councilbluffs-ia.gov/brownfields for more information. The webpage is an information portal for Brownfields Program activities, public meetings, and community events.

This summer, the City of Council Bluffs will begin public outreach to actively engage the community via public meetings, community events, door-to-door conversations, and other activities. “We will solicit input regarding sites and redevelopment possibilities and educate our community on any perceived or known contamination,” said Redmond.

Environmental site assessments will begin this fall. The city of Council Bluffs has selected Impact7G, Inc. to serve as the qualified environmental professional for the Brownfields Program. Impact7G will conduct Environmental Site Assessments on eligible properties in Council Bluffs. Beginning with a visual assessment, Impact7G will visit sites to look for indications of potential contamination. If hazards are identified, testing will follow in a second phase of the assessment. The environmental site assessments will serve as a planning tool for reclaiming the underutilized sites.

Anyone with a property that might be a good fit for the Brownfields Program can contact Redmond at dredmond@councilbluffs-ia.gov or by phone at 712-890-5352.

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