The Halifax County Industrial Development Authority was notified Wednesday the United States Environmental Protection Agency has made a $590,000 award for the Halifax Coalition Brownfield’s Assessment Grant Program.
It was one of 172 communities across the country to receive funding for brownfield site revitalization.
The award, announced Wednesday, is the largest of five grants given by the EPA to Virginia localities including Bedford, Norfolk, Pulaski and Roanoke, which received amounts of either $300,000 or $200,000.
This program allows funding for communities acting collaboratively to identify and assess vacant and unused properties for potential revitalization and reuse.
“The Halifax IDA has conveyed its gratitude to the EPA on behalf of the coalition members, including the county, town of Halifax and town of South Boston,” said Halifax IDA Executive Director Matt Leonard.
“We are very excited to receive the EPA’s $590,000 Brownfield Coalition Grant Award. In our rural community, economic development and community development are critically linked. Working together and finding ways to reuse the assets we have advances both of these efforts.”
The IDA’s application included critical support in the forms of a joint resolution by the county board of supervisors and the councils for the towns of Halifax and South Boston, at their Sept. 19 joint meeting; and letters of support submitted by the Halifax County Chamber of Commerce, South Boston Lions Club, Destination Downtown South Boston, Halifax Village Association, Southside Planning District Commission and the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center.
“We greatly appreciate that the EPA recognizes the transformational power of community collaboration through the effective revitalization and repurposing of our lands,” said Supervisor Chairman Dennis Witt.
Ed Owens, mayor of the town of South Boston, also thanked the EPA and local coalition.
“We could not do this without the EPA’s real and significant support. We look forward to working with our coalition partners and the EPA on this important project,” said Owens.
“The application process for this grant has proved valuable in preparing us for the work to come in identifying eligible properties for evaluation, and we will move the project forward as quickly as possible,” said Kristy Johnson, mayor of the town of Halifax and Halifax IDA deputy director.
“The IDA already has begun working on a project plan which includes community input sessions. We will keep the community apprised of program progress.”
Representatives from Draper Aden Associates constructed the EPA grant application, and it also proposed to identify and assess brownfields in the coalition’s service area — polluted real estate parcels, abandoned industrial structures, historic complexes, old warehouses, mills and the like — and to do all of this at no cost to coalition members or the county.
The three governing bodies have identified a number of potential brownfield sites for revitalization.
Now that the grant has been awarded, discussion can begin on which properties in each locality might be best suited for repurposing—based on their positive impact on the community and environment and other project benefits.
Of the entire grant funding awarded Wednesday, $17.5 million of the assessment and cleanup funding will benefit small and rural communities with populations less than 10,000.
Recipients will each receive approximately $200,000 - $600,000 in funding to work on individual sites or several sites within their community.
Studies have shown that residential property values near brownfield sites that are cleaned up increased between 5 and 15.2 percent and can increase property values within a one-mile radius of that site.
Additional information about the EPA’s Brownfield’s Program and awards can be found at www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-brownfields-funding-announced-virginia.