More Arizona communities are leveraging brownfields grants to revitalize blighted properties statewide. Brownfields grants help municipalities and nonprofits identify and reduce environmental hazards, mitigate public health threats, create new business opportunities, increase tax revenues and restore impacted properties to beneficial reuse.
Each year, communities across the nation compete for limited federal brownfields grant funds. Common brownfields projects involve redeveloping main streets to boost tourism and community services, creating additional greenspaces and adding healthcare facilities. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) both administers a state-level Brownfields Assistance Program to provide brownfields grant funds and helps municipal and nonprofit applicants prepare successful federal grant applications.
ADEQ awarded $414,000 in brownfields grants in fiscal year 2021 to support these accomplishments:
• The Lowell Observatory (Flagstaff) assessed and cleaned up existing buildings as they overhaul the site to optimize both their manufacturing functionality and visitor experience.
• Gila County removed lead and asbestos from an abandoned building in Hayden adjacent to a former Brownfields site. Together, the two properties were revitalized into a rest stop with picnic tables that overlook the area.
• San Carlos Apache Tribe removed an asbestos-filled building at the Cutter Airport, which is looking to expand and grow.
• City of Show Low cleaned up asbestos and lead from the former junior high school, which repurposed the existing structures to provide community services.
ADEQ’s Brownfields Assistance Program also funded completion of seven environmental assessments that helped to identify hazardous waste and building material that can be translated into cleanup projects for fiscal year 2022.
“As our Brownfields team continues to support more municipalities and nonprofits to address local environmental issues, together we are completing impactful projects that protect Arizonans’ health and provide lasting economic benefits for our communities,” said ADEQ Director Misael Cabrera. P.E.
“Even during the pandemic, 12 Arizona communities successfully continued work on brownfields projects,” said ADEQ Brownfields Coordinator Travis Barnum. “This is a testament to our small and rural communities’ resourcefulness and resilience.”
“Gila County is excited to receive this funding as it will enable us to enhance our efforts towards combating blight in our smaller communities and unincorporated areas,” said Gila County Supervisor Woody Cline.
Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded an additional $2.95M in brownfields grants to communities in Apache, Gila, Navajo, Pinal and Yuma counties, as well as to the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community and Navajo Nation.
“For many years leaders from throughout Arizona’s Copper Corridor have been struggling to combat blight, we are finally making significant improvements thanks to the support and grants through the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality,” said Mayor Mila Besich from the Town of Superior. “The award of the Regional EPA Brownfields grant will increase our opportunity to improve the health and safety for our communities, while also creating new opportunities for economic growth for Superior and Arizona’s Copper Corridor region.”