SARASOTA -- Miles Ballogg, from Cardno TBE, has been working with the Metropolitan Planning Organization to free-up property compromised by the possibility of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminates. Just the perception of any such hurdles can easily deter investment and opportunity, qualifying the site as a Brownfield. That's where and how companies like Cardno TBE make a difference, putting properties back to where they can be safely used.
Through grants, loans, matching funds, mitigation and federal state and local incentives, complex goals can be met. The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Federal Brownfield Program has made available a million dollar grant to be spent on Sarasota/Manatee MPO brownfield projects, and these offerings are on a use it or lose it basis.
In The City of Palmetto, brownfield-project funds have been a big plus for redevelopment. Recently, Palmetto commissioners voted to continue in the process of designating the "Palmetto Economic Enhancement District" as a brownfield. With these grants available, what might have been a $100,000 cleanup project can be reduced to $25,000 out of pocket for the city.
Jeff Burton, Palmetto's CRA Director, has managed projects with the assistance from Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) and West Coast Inland Navigation District (WCIND), putting the City of Palmetto in a very progressive position. Brownfield funds helped to get the Shell gas station property at the north end of the green bridge rehabbed with only $24,000 of local funds.
At Monday's MPO meeting, members voted to have staff pursue a application for more EPA brownfield grant money. There are a number of closed gas stations and other facilities likely to have circumstances that will qualify them a brownfield throughout both counties. Brownfield funds are designed to reduce blight by reducing the cost of redevelopment.
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