June 10, 2022

The City of Newberry recently received a $500,000 US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assessment Grant, providing funding for brownfield inventories, planning, environmental assessments, and community outreach.

A brownfield is a property for which the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.

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

Municipal Clerk Jeff Wicker explained the background of the grant to City Council during their June meeting.

“This is a national grant, very competitive,” Wicker said. “We’re very fortunate to be awarded.”

The purpose of the grant, Wicker said is to identify commercial or industrial properties in the city limits that have or may have the presence of contaminants and to do environmental assessments to determine their readiness for repurpose.

“The idea is to take old commercial or industrial properties and to give them new life,” he said.

The city likely would not receive funding until the fall. The grant covers a three-year period beginning October 1, 2022 and ending September 30, 2025.

The City issued a request for qualifications last fall, Wicker said for an experienced environmental consulting firm to provide expertise and guidance throughout the process. Cardno, he said was selected as the firm. However, they have since been acquired by Stantec.

“We’re excited to get started and we hope it will be a great opportunity to repurpose underdeveloped properties in town,” he said.