The Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments (OCWCOG), in partnership with the Cities of Newport and Toledo, the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians, and Lincoln County (Coalition), was awarded $600,000 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through two brownfields environmental site assessment grants. The funding includes $300,000 to assess sites contaminated by petroleum; and $300,000 to assess sites contaminated by other hazardous substances. The funding will be used to prioritize the brownfield sites, develop two area-wide plans, and fund community involvement activities.
“This is great news for Lincoln County. This cleanup work will be complex and expensive, but it’s absolutely vital for our long-term well-being,” said Lincoln County Commissioner Bill Hall, OCWCOG Board Member. “I am deeply appreciative of the work of OCWCOG to secure this important grant.”
The funding will allow for the assessment of 30 brownfield sites in Lincoln County, which will serve as an initial step towards the cleanup, and redevelopment of, vacant and underutilized properties for these communities. The goal is to transform these sites into assets for both the communities and the local environment.
“Our Coalition formed to address unique economic challenges and opportunities in our diverse, beautiful, rural, and coastal Oregon County,” said Fred Abousleman, Executive Director of OCWCOG. “We are honored to be chosen by the U.S. EPA in recognition of the vision of the County, Tribe, and community partners to address barriers to available developable land, help stabilize local economies, and move to mitigate environmental issues. This project is part of a larger local and regional vision to increase economic capacity and to strengthen and celebrate the quality of life that makes our communities so desirable.”
The Cities of Newport and Toledo, and the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians are important partners for OCWCOG, as much of the assessment work focuses on developed areas within their communities, as well as some unincorporated areas within Lincoln County.
“Although the grant funds will focus on Yaquina Bay, a very important habitat for birds, fish, and other wildlife, the sites we will examine will be all over the central County,” said Caroline Bauman, Lincoln County Economic Development Alliance. “Not only sites with obvious contamination, but underutilized and vacant sites will be examined, both commercial and industrial. We are happy to see that local involvement is a key component of the area-wide planning that will be taking place.”
Brownfields cleanup and restoration projects have historically assisted disadvantaged communities; OCWCOG built the Coalition to assist several communities by coming together and working collectively. Through this funding, Coalition members will work to address the protection of water quality to save ecosystems, strengthen the local economy by attracting a new workforce, address affordable housing, and more.
“The Siletz Tribal Business Corporation looks forward to building strategic business and economic development relationships with the Coalition partnerships identified in the U.S. EPA grant award,” said Stewart Brannen, CEO of the Siletz Tribal Business Corporation. “We believe that by acting collaboratively together, the resulting economies of scale will better leverage the remediation of brownfield sites in coastal Oregon.”
The Coalition was one of 172 communities across the country who received funding from the U.S. EPA in 2017. In total, $56.8 million was granted in this round of funding.
“EPA is committed to working with communities to redevelop Brownfields sites which have plagued their neighborhoods. EPA’s Assessment and Cleanup grants target communities that are economically disadvantaged and include places where environmental cleanup and new jobs are most needed,” said Administrator Scott Pruitt, U.S. EPA. “These grants leverage considerable infrastructure and other investments, improving local economies, and creating an environment where jobs can grow. I am very pleased the President’s budget recognizes the importance of these grants by providing continued funding for this important program.”
These grants are expected to end in early 2021.
For more information, contact Phil Warnock, Community and Economic Development Director, at 541.924.8474 or email@example.com.