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EPA Awards Six More Brownfields Pilot Grants in New Jersey

Release Date: 07/15/1998
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(#98084) New York, N.Y. -- The number of projects in New Jersey funded by Brownfields grants doubled today as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded six $200,000 grants to communities throughout New Jersey. These grants were awarded to Hudson, Middlesex, and Morris Counties and the municipalities of Atlantic City, Long Branch, and Paterson to identify and assess contaminated sites for cleanup and redevelopment. Vice President Al Gore announced this and other national Brownfields pilot grants at a press conference held today in Washington, DC at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.

The goal of the national Brownfields program is to restore industrial and commercial properties where actual or perceived environmental contamination has hindered redevelopment or expansion. The Brownfields grants, which require extensive community involvement, empower local governments across the country to compile data and develop strategies for realizing this goal.

"Brownfields projects make environmental and economic sense," said Jeanne M. Fox, EPA Region 2 Administrator. "These projects help protect pristine areas in New Jersey by encouraging redevelopment of areas that have already lost some of their environmental value. The success of the Brownfields program is proof positive that environmental health and economic strength are not mutually exclusive goals."

Hudson County in northeastern New Jersey has a long history of supporting a strong manufacturing and commercial economic base. In recent years, business relocation and downsizing pressures have resulted in a 47% decrease in jobs, as well as a proliferation of abandoned, obsolete facilities. Although some sensitive wetlands remain in the northern and western sectors, the county consists mainly of highly-developed lands. Redevelopment of brownfields remains the only viable option for economic expansion and revitalization, while preserving these sensitive and valuable wetlands. The county contains an estimated 650 abandoned sites that may be contaminated.

The Hudson County government will utilize the Brownfields grant money to help small municipalities identify, obtain, leverage, and coordinate resources for site cleanup and redevelopment. It will form a workgroup consisting of local government, business, and neighborhood stakeholders to facilitate these activities and produce revitalization plans for each site. The Hudson County Brownfields grant monies will be used for projects in Harrison, Hoboken, Kearny and North Bergen.

Middlesex County in central New Jersey has been a commercial and industrial area for decades. However, a marked decline in the metal processing and petrochemical industries has shut down local businesses which have left behind numerous vacant and potentially contaminated areas. These include polluted stretches along the Arthur Kill waterway, Raritan Bay and the Raritan River. Seven municipalities, which contain over 50% of all known contaminated sites in the county, are located on these water bodies. The grant, which will focus on the development of new commercial, light industrial, and mixed residential/recreational areas, will be used to facilitate the Middlesex County Waterfront Reclamation Project, identify and assess brownfields, and to organize a task force of representatives from each of the seven targeted municipalities.

Morris County in northern New Jersey has been an industrial area since the Revolutionary War, largely due to its local iron ore deposits along the Rockaway River. As the iron industry waned, many potentially contaminated sites were abandoned. A 40 mile stretch of the Rockaway River and its associated aquifers in shoreline communities may be contaminated.

The Brownfields grant will be used to restore the environment and revitalize the local economies of 13 municipalities in Morris County. Potential sites for revitalization will be identified and assessed and a cleanup and redevelopment plan will be developed for each chosen site. The revitalization will stimulate riverside development and improve water quality.

Today, Atlantic City, New Jersey is best known for its casino hotels and popular beachfront. Historically, the city supported a range of commercial industries including fisheries, glass and candy manufacturing, and resort tourism. When these industries closed down, many abandoned industrial sites were left to hinder redevelopment of downtown Atlantic City.

The Atlantic City Brownfields grant will be used to form a task force, which will conduct site assessments, create a redevelopment plan with financing strategies, and oversee community outreach efforts. The aim is to stimulate job growth by restoring distressed properties to their former level of prosperity.

Long Branch, an urban community located in central New Jersey, has been known as a beach resort for 150 years, but it does contain dormant, contaminated sites that restrict the city's economic progress.

The Brownfields funding will be used to revitalize a 136-acre Redevelopment Zone designated by the City of Long Branch along the oceanfront. To accomplish this goal, the grant will be used to prioritize area brownfields and create redevelopment plans with community input and support. This effort will be aided by the city's designation as a Neighborhood Empowerment Zone by the Governor's Urban Coordinating Council.

Paterson, located in northeastern New Jersey, was the nation's first planned industrial city. The state has identified over 70 contaminated sites in Paterson.

The Brownfields grant will focus on public involvement in cleanup and reuse decision-making, the assessment of six target sites, and cleanup and redevelopment planning. The sites were selected because of their presence in the city's Hazardous Site Remediation program, their size (exceeding one acre), and the lack of interest in their development.

Since 1995, EPA has provided $42 million in grants for 228 pilots, allowing communities nationwide to begin the process of redeveloping brownfields. This year alone, EPA will expand the program nationally with 71 new Brownfields Assessment Demonstration Pilots. The EPA has awarded a total of 12 Brownfields grants in New Jersey, including the grants awarded today. The six grants were previously awarded to Camden, Elizabeth, Jersey City, Newark, Perth Amboy, and Trenton.

For more information contact:
Mary Mears, Press Office
EPA Region 2
290 Broadway
NY, NY 10007-1866
Voice: 212-637-3669 FAX: 212-637-5046 E-Mail: