Problem Properties: Funding and TA for Blighted and Underutilized Sites (Brownfields)

Updated: 
October 9, 2023
7
min read
How to

If your organization is working to address a brownfield site in your community, the federal government has an unprecedented amount of grant funding available for brownfield related projects through the EPA. Additionally, the state of Kentucky has a wealth of training and technical assistance as well as funding available to brownfield projects.

What is a brownfield?

The federal government defines a brownfield as “a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant”.

Brownfields are underutilized properties because of the concerns communities have around cleanup costs and liability. According to the Kentucky Brownfields Program, they may include:

  • Contaminated sites
  • Potentially contaminated sites
  • Perceived as contaminated sites
  • Abandoned Properties
  • Dilapidated buildings
  • Blighted areas
  • Vacated lots
  • Wasted or fallow lands
  • Distressed zones
  • Barriers to development

Brownfields have been successfully redeveloped in all sorts of ways, including remodeled buildings, new commercial properties, residential housing, community centers, and entertainment venues.

Where to begin

Your first step towards funding any project involving a brownfield is to conduct a Targeted Brownfield Assessment (TBA) on the property of interest before obtaining the property. A TBA is a requirement for state and federal funding and TA opportunities, and will determine if and how extensively a site is contaminated, how long remediation could take, whether the project is feasible, community support for the project, and more. For liability reasons, it is important you get your TBA done PRIOR to purchasing the property. This is because a TBA will include what’s called a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment or All Appropriate Inquiry that will make you eligible for liability protection. It must be completed prior to you owning the property to count!

Luckily, the Kentucky Brownfield Redevelopment Program offers TBAs as a free service to local governments and nonprofits. Here you will find application information and guidance: https://eec.ky.gov/Environmental-Protection/brownfields/Pages/targeted-brownfield-assessments.aspx

If you already have redevelopment plans for the brownfield site, you may also be eligible for the federal EPA TBA program: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/targeted-brownfields-assessments-tba

What Next?

Once you have your TBA in hand, it’s time to get to work. There are a huge number of resources available to you to assist you with the process, including training and technical assistance, grant writing assistance, and regulatory guidance: 

Federal

Technical Assistance for Brownfields and Land Revitalization

The Technical Assistance to Brownfields Program (TAB) is funded by the EPA and consists of 6 providers across the EPA’s 10 regions. TAB provides technical assistance to communities who want to tackle cleanup and revitalization of their brownfield areas. 

Kentucky is in EPA Region 4 and our TAB provider is the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). Free technical assistance can be accessed here: https://icmatab.org/resources/ and Kentucky nonprofits are eligible.

Fill out a TA Request form at the site above and the TAB team should respond within five business days.

For more detail, check out this webinar clip: Technical Assistance for Energy Communities Webinar Series – Webinar #2 January 17, 2023

Grant Funding

The EPA has a variety of grants available:

  • Assessment Grants provide funding for brownfield inventories, planning, environmental assessments, and community outreach.
  • Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) Grants provide funding to capitalize loans that are used to clean up brownfield sites.
  • Cleanup Grants provide funding to carry out cleanup activities at brownfield sites owned by the applicant.
  • Multipurpose (MP) Grants provide funding to conduct a range of eligible assessment and cleanup activities at one or more brownfield sites in a target area.
  • Job Training (JT) Grants provide environmental training for residents impacted by brownfield sites in their communities.
  • State and Tribal Response Program Grants provide non-competitive funding to establish or enhance State and Tribal Brownfields response programs.

State

As mentioned above, the Kentucky Brownfield Program offers a variety of assistance, including:

For more information, contact the Brownfield Help Desk at envhelp@ky.gov or (502)-782-6189.

Also, a partnership between the Kentucky Brownfield Program and the University of Kentucky's Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky (CEDIK) brings a monthly webinar series focused on Brownfield Redevelopment and Downtown Revitalization in Kentucky.

Check out past webinar offerings, such as:

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