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Release Date: 5/13/1997
Contact Information: Lois Grunwald, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1588

     (San Francisco) -- At the White House today, Vice President Al Gore announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has selected Santa Barbara County and the city of East Palo Alto to participate in pilot redevelopment projects at industrial sites known as brownfields. Santa Barbara County and East Palo Alto were two of 34 cities and municipalities nationwide selected today as brownfields pilot projects.  

     "We are pleased to announce this new partnership with Santa Barbara County and national recognition for our continued partnership with the city of East Palo Alto to encourage the cleanup of contaminated industrial land and help return these areas to more productive uses,"  said Felicia Marcus, U.S. EPA's regional administrator. "Environmental cleanup can bring life and strength to a community through jobs, an enhanced tax base, and vision for the community's future. We are committed to helping communities achieve those outcomes."

     Santa Barbara County will receive a $200,000 grant over a two-year period. These federal funds will be used to involve the community in decisions regarding the appropriate cleanup levels and future uses of contaminated brownfields' properties in Goleta Old Town, and encourage public and private investment in  redevelopment of these areas. East Palo Alto has received $125,000 under its new pilot project.

     The $200,000 will be used by Santa Barbara County to restore its Old Town area.  The Goleta Old Town area has been an economic, social, and cultural center of the Goleta Valley since the early 1900s. During the 1950s and 1960s,  industrial and commercial businesses expanded into Old Town but since then, the area has declined economically. Economic redevelopment has been impeded by known and suspected environmental contamination.
     The $125,000 will be used by the city of East Palo Alto to assist efforts to clean up and redevelop the 130-acre Ravenswood Industrial Area complex, which will include community involvement. Previously, U.S. EPA provided $300,000 in technical assistance to East Palo Alto to assess the degree and type of contamination at the site, and funding for a staff liaison position -- co-funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development -- to work on brownfields and economic development issues in the city. U.S. EPA's investigation of the site, completed in December 1996, found far less contamination of the site than had originally been expected.

     In Region 9, U.S. EPA has existing brownfields projects in Sacramento, Stockton, Emeryville, Richmond, San Francisco, Oakland, and with the Navajo Nation in New Mexico. U.S. EPA is also providing assistance to the city of Los Angeles for brownfields redevelopment. With the 34 new projects, there are now 113 brownfields pilot projects nationwide.

     In addition to the new pilot projects, Vice President Gore also announced that he is bringing together the resources of more than 15 federal agencies as part of the Clinton Administration's new "Brownfields National Partnership ." The Brownfields Partnership builds on the Administration's actions to empower and revitalize America's communities. This expanded effort includes commitments from across the federal government and the private sector to help thousands of communities clean up and redevelop brownfields.

     The brownfields initiative is designed to encourage the redevelopment of former industrial and commercial properties known as brownfields, and to discourage the siting of industrial sites in more rural, pristine areas. The initiative also addresses the concerns of prospective developers and lenders concerned about inheriting cleanup liability for property that is contaminated or perceived to be contaminated.

     Information on the new brownfields pilot grant awards and the Brownfields National
Partnership can be obtained from the Internet on the U.S. EPA's brownfields home page at: .

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