EPA grant aims to help clean up 2 sites in Wilmington with input from community

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Shown in green are the two brownfield sites, with the 12th Street location being the larger of the two.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the award of a $197,500 grant to the City of Wilmington to assist with area-wide planning for cleanup, redevelopment and productive reuse of former industrial properties in the city.

One of the sites is a former auto salvage yard located at the intersection of 14th and Church Streets along the Brandywine River, and the other is along the same river shoreline at 12th and Governor Printz Boulevard. The site was used by the city for storage of materials. Both properties are owned by the city.

“This area-wide planning approach sparks the kind of economic development that meets the needs of neighborhoods, and leads to vibrant communities,” said acting EPA Regional Administrator Cecil Rodrigues, speaking at a press conference near the former Diamond State Salvage facility along the Brandywine riverfront in northeast Wilmington. “We know that revitalization works best when local communities are directly involved in the process.”

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This funding will help to empower the City of Wilmington and its partners including The University of Delaware; The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DENREC); The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); and, Old Brandywine Village – as they plan the cleanup, redevelopment, and infrastructure upgrades necessary for neighborhood revitalization.

“We are looking forward to conducting this community-based review and evaluation process to assist Wilmington in redeveloping two sizable areas of land,” said Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki. “We are grateful to the EPA and our state and city partners for helping us turn former brownfields into assets for the community and the City.”

The EPA has awarded nearly $11 million to communities in the state of Delaware for assessing and cleaning up brownfields. One of these grants was a $1 million Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund grant which DNREC and its partners used to clean up five brownfields properties in Wilmington – leading to the creation of a group home for people with disabilities, 40 residential units, a community center, and a research and manufacturing facility.

EPA Brownfields Assessment Grant funding has also helped to create the South Wilmington Wetlands Project, which enabled planning for the cleanup and reuse of 20 plus acres of contaminated soils to create a healthy, functioning wetland with a proposed community park and environmental education center.

Since the federal brownfields law was passed in 2001, theprogram has created or retained over 122,000 jobs and leveraged more than $23.7 billion in redevelopment investment in brownfields communities, the EPA reported.

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