The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

August 30, 2013

Ohio EPA to discuss programs for redeveloping brownfields in Ashtabula

ASHTABULA — The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has helped revitalize more than 8,000 acres of blighted land at nearly 400 sites across the state in the past 18 years.

On Wednesday, OEPA, along with the Ohio Development Services Agency and the U.S. EPA, will lead a workshop at Kent State University’s Ashtabula Campus, that will give local communities an opportunity to learn more about a number of programs available to help with the redevelopment of brownfields. The workshop is part of a series OEPA has been participating in, said Mike Settles, of OEPA.

“There will be a number of folks from various agencies that will talk about their specific roles in working toward revitalizing brownfields,” he said. “The workshop is geared toward local municipal leaders so they can spend the day talking the experts.”

Speakers from OEPA, the Ohio Development Services Agency, U.S. EPA, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Office and Kansas State University (which provides assistance to communities through a U.S. EPA grant) will discuss topics including OEPA’s Voluntary Action Program (VAP) and statewide inventory of brownfield properties; Ohio Development Services Agency’s Brownfield Revolving Loan Fund; Ohio Water Development Authority loan programs; U.S. EPA Brownfield Grants, Technical Assistance to Brownfields (TAB) program and Targeted Brownfield Assessments; E-tools for brownfield revitalization and online summary of local resources for small and rural communities; and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development resources.

OEPA’s VAP program helps property owners and communities identify any environmental issues on the property and clean it up, Settles said.

“The whole program is a way to provide an incentive for property owners to clean up their own properties to prevent them from turning into brownfields,” he said.

Unless the environmental issues have already been identified, Settles said the biggest challenge with brownfield properties is new developers or potential buyers are leery of going in for fear they will inherit the environmental issues.

The free workshop will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Blue and Gold Room at KSUA, 3300 Lake Road West. Registration information is available at http://ashtabula09042013.eventbrite.com.

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