Cook County Receives U.S. EPA Brownfields Grant

The Cook County Department of Environmental Control has received a 2014 US Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Assessment Grant. Cook County, along with seven municipal partners (Bellwood, Forest Park, Franklin Park, Melrose Park, Maywood, Northlake, and Schiller Park) received $600,000 (the maximum award allowed) to assist in the environmental assessment and eventual redevelopment of potentially contaminated properties within the coalition area. “This U.S. EPA grant is critically important in removing barriers to redevelopment and job growth in an area that is already strong on economic development fundamentals, such as transportation and a trained labor force,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “Eradicating contaminants on Brownfield sites will increase the fiscal stability of our communities by allowing vacant properties to again contribute to the tax base. It will also help improve the health of residents who suffer from problems such as asthma. Cook County is proud to have received the largest Brownfields grant in Illinois this year, and this effort demonstrates the strength governments can have when they work together toward a common goal.” The Center for Neighborhood Technology identified at least 87 vacant, abandoned or underused sites in these seven communities. The EPA grant will help fund an environmental assessment of these sites, focusing on contamination stemming from bulk petroleum storage and other hazardous materials. The funding is distributed through the EPA Brownfields Program, which cleans up and reinvests in sites that are contaminated—or perceived to be so—and have limited redevelopment potential because of potential liability. This grant would not have been possible without the support of additional partners: Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), Cook County Land Bank Authority, Chicago-Cook Workforce Partnership, Center for Neighborhood Technology, Faith in Place, OAI Inc. (a job training entity), Triton College, Cook County Depts. of Public Health & Planning and Development, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, Technical Assistance for Brownfield Communities/ Kansas State U. (TAB), and others.