The Cook County Department of Environment and Sustainability was awarded two brownfield grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the agency said.
These grants will aid south suburban communities in assessing possible contamination on vacant or underused properties. The grants will also aid in the remediation of properties in some south and west suburban communities. The goal is to return brownfield properties to productive use creating jobs, bolstering the local tax base and creating other local economic development benefits.
“I am grateful that Cook County is the recipient of these grants,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “Overall, the funding presents us with a great opportunity to improve the environment as well as encourage economic development and create jobs. The work that these grants will fund builds on our partnerships with local communities and local leaders and continues Cook County’s work to position these south and west suburban areas for growth.”
A $600,000 Brownfields Coalition Assessment Grant will allow properties in south suburban Chicago Heights, Ford Heights and Sauk Village to be assessed for potential contamination. Sites will be chosen cooperatively with the local municipalities.
The grant will allow initial assessments of about 40 sites and final assessments of 20 of those 40 sites.
In addition, Cook County was awarded a $751,000 Brownfield Revolving Loan Fund grant that will provide resources to redevelop and reuse brownfield sites through loans for cleanup in Chicago Heights, Ford Heights and Sauk Village. West suburban brownfield sites already assessed in Bellwood, Maywood, Schiller Park and Franklin Park are also eligible for the funding.
Brownfield sites generally are real property in which expansion, redevelopment or reuse of the property may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties protects the environment, reduces blight, and takes development pressures off greenspaces and working lands, according to the U.S. EPA.
The goal of both grant projects is to foster livable, vibrant communities that are safe, healthy and rich with amenities for all residents, regardless of age, race or income level.
Federal funds through these grants will become available on October 1, 2018.
Last year, Cook County announced that 30 brownfield sites totaling approximately 127 acres were assessed and more than 120 acres are undergoing reuse planning or redevelopment as a result of a U.S. EPA grant received in 2014.