Niagara County approved for $3.9 million in brownfield funding to clean up sites

Posted 28 June 2022 at 12:11 pm

Press Release, U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins

Photo courtesy of Rob Ortt’s office: State Sen. Rob Ortt speaks during a news conference outside the Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda on Monday with Congressman Brian Higgins (right), EPA Regional Administrator Lisa Garcia (left) and Chad Staniszewski, acting regional director for DEC.

NORTH TONAWANDA – Niagara County will receive $3.9 million of the more than $250 million in funding recently awarded across the country to 265 communities.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia was joined Monday by U.S. Representative Brian Higgins to highlight the important work to be conducted in Niagara County using part of this funding.

New York communities received about $10.5 of that money, including a $3.9 million grant to Niagara County. The funding is in part from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides a total of $1.5 billion to advance environmental justice, spur economic revitalization, and create jobs by cleaning up contaminated, polluted, or hazardous brownfield properties.

EPA will be awarding Niagara County a Revolving Loan Fund grant that supplements previous Brownfields grant funding the Agency awarded to the county. These new funds will be used to for loans and subgrants for site cleanups throughout the county. Priority sites for this funding include a former junkyard, a vacant office building, and a former industrial building.

“Niagara County will benefit from the powerful tool of brownfields, which helps overburdened communities in New York address local inequities by providing a means to revitalize properties and promote environmental health, economic growth, and job creation,” said EPA Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. “The Brownfields program transforms communities, and BIL gives the program a huge infusion of funding with a historic $1.5 billion dollars that will be leveraged to make a real and lasting on-the-ground difference for communities across the country.”

Brownfield projects can range from cleaning up buildings with asbestos or lead contamination, to assessing and cleaning up abandoned properties that once managed dangerous chemicals. Once cleaned up, former brownfield properties can be redeveloped into productive uses such as grocery stores, affordable housing, health centers, museums, parks, and solar farms.

“The Bipartisan Infrastructure and Jobs Law that I led to passage included a historic $1.5 billion for the EPA’s Brownfields program, and now those dollars are jumpstarting long-delayed clean-ups at toxic sites from the Mohawk Valley to Niagara County,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer. “Cleaning up these polluted sites is critical to breathing new life into these communities to attract businesses and create new good-paying jobs. This $10.5 million federal investment will not only ensure that municipalities will not have to take on debt to clean up these waste sites, but will protect the health of our families, environment, and will accelerate economic recovery.”

“Brownfields are a serious threat to the environment and to public health,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. “Cleaning them up and turning them into usable spaces like parks, recreation facilities, and housing revitalizes our communities and spurs local economic development. I’m proud to have fought to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that helped provide the funding for this cleanup and I applaud EPA for working to address contamination across New York State.”

“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is laying the foundation for healthier, cleaner and vibrant communities, while supporting jobs right here at home,” said Rep. Brian Higgins. “This $4 million federal investment, represents a significant boost to a program that will play a critical role in transitioning Niagara County’s old, industrial sites to destinations that are new, exciting and welcoming to the public and to economic opportunities.”

New York State Sen. Rob Ortt said: “Niagara County and Western New York is currently in the midst of a rebirth with new and exciting projects emerging from once polluted parcels of land. Our region, which was built on the industrial sector, is still recovering from environmental mistakes of the past. But with funding from programs like the Revolving Loan Supplemental Grant Fund, and the Brownfield Tax Credit at the state level, we are making tremendous strides forward toward cleaning up our communities and repurposing once vacant land for new commercial and residential usage. I thank the bipartisan efforts at our federal level for helping to make this funding available to our county, and I look forward to the new projects that are created from this program.”