JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (Dec. 21, 2016) — The River Hills Economic Development District & Regional Planning Commission (EDD & RPC) Brownfields Coalition received a $550,000 EPA Brownfields Coalition Grant that will provide funding for the inventory, prioritization, assessment, and cleanup planning for priority brownfields in the River Hills Coalition member counties of Clark, Floyd, Harrison, Scott, and Washington. This was the only grant of its kind awarded in the state of Indiana.
Brownfields are defined as “abandoned, idled, or underused industrial and commercial properties where reuse or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived contamination.” Typical brownfields include abandoned industrial or commercial properties, former dry cleaners, old gas stations, vacant schools, old hospitals, former grain elevators and properties that contain asbestos or lead paint.
According to Jill S. Saegesser, executive director of the River Hills EDD & RPC, “Officials throughout our five counties have realized that the re-development of brownfields is essential to revitalize our communities, both large and small. The project will be aligned with the region’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS).”
The project will begin in October, 2016, and end in September, 2019. It will allow owners and developers of vacant, deteriorating properties to begin the process of redevelopment before becoming hot spots for vandalism, drug use and crime. Properties left abandoned decrease property values in the area and make it more difficult to draw employers and investors to the region. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties protects the environment, reduces blight, and takes development pressures off greenspaces and working lands. In addition, vacant commercial and industrial properties can drain the tax base, as they require upkeep that draws from municipal finances.
River Hills is eager to involve communities throughout the region in this effort. We encourage you to think about sites that should be on the inventory and consider potential reuses for those sites. Please contact Nicholas Creevy, Community Development Specialist, River Hills EDD & RPC at 812-288-4624 or [email protected] with your thoughts and ideas. For more on the EPA brownfields program, visit http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/.