Austin got a big check from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week. The city won a $300,000 grant to help fund cleanup efforts on abandoned and environmentally-damaged plots of land in East Austin.
In EPA speak, these plots of lands are called brownfields, which are basically just former industrial/commercial sites (like gas stations, dry cleaning facilities, and landfills) that might have mold, asbestos, or other pollutants that need to be cleaned up. There are an estimated 450,000 of these sites throughout the US.
With the $300,000 grant from the EPA, Austin will be conducting site assessments, creating cleanup plans, and engaging in community outreach activities to help remove pollutants and then redevelop brownfields in East Austin, in particular. As Mayor Steve Adler noted in a press conference announcing the grants, previous brownfield grants have been used in Austin to build Mabel Davis District Park (the city’s first skate park), the Austin African American Cultural Heritage Center, and the Guadalupe-Saldana Affordable Housing Complex.
The goal of this round of grants from the EPA is to take the first steps toward cleaning up land in East Austin and then transforming it into affordable housing with access to parks, community gardens, recreation, nature, and affordable food.
“Every dollar towards brownfields clean-up in the Eastern Crescent gives back $16 in jobs and economic opportunities for the community. These new EPA grants will finally address environmental justice while providing economic equity for that area of town,” Adler said. You can learn more by watching a video of the press conference announcing the $300,000 grant here>>