The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) recently awarded two assessment grants totaling $725,000 to Yazoo City and Hernando, Mississippi.
Assessment grants provide funding for brownfield planning, environmental assessments, inventories, and community outreach.
PM prepared the successful applications, and the grants will be used for community-wide assessment of properties in each city. PM was selected to be the consultant for the grant activities through a competitive qualifications review by each City.
Yazoo City is currently ranked in the worst 80-90th percentile in the United States in terms of total environmental releases, and 90-100th percentile in the country for water releases.
The City will put the $375,000 allocation ($200,000 for hazardous substances and $125,000 for petroleum sites) towards alleviating blight, stimulating job creation, and assessing and mitigating environmental conditions.
The City plans to redevelop specific areas, such as two former bulk storage terminals into affordable residential properties and a community greenspace, a former Afro-American Sons and Daughters Hospital into a museum, and a former cotton press into medical offices, care facilities, and affordable housing to serve residents in the City.
“Yazoo became our sentimental favorite after our initial meetings in the City,” said John Hargraves, P.G., brownfield group regional manager at PM Environmental. “They embody what I consider to be the reason the brownfield program was created. They also have a ‘can do’ spirit to take this step and grow it into something successful for the citizens of the City.”
Three of the primary goals include: preservation of historic assets, redevelopment focused in blighted areas, and establishing higher quality, affordable housing opportunities.
The City of Hernando
The City of Hernando is a small, quaint, town, located in northwest Mississippi that has grown 107 percent from 2000 to 2010. A majority of the growth has been residential, which left the City in need of supportive public infrastructure and commercial and industrial business balance.
The $400,000 grant ($200,000 for hazardous substances and $200,000 for petroleum sites), will be put toward redevelopments that aid in increasing property and sales taxes for the City and helping attract larger, corporate employment opportunities.
The City of Hernando was awarded an EPA assessment grant in 2012 as well.
“The City leadership of Hernando is forward thinking, and has already taken advantage of the Mississippi Economic Redevelopment Act to assist developers with projects within the city,” said Hargraves. “At the time, they were only the third city in Mississippi to do so. Since this is their second assessment grant, they came out of the gate quickly with interested property owners in line to put their sites in the program.”
In addition, the successful adaptive reuse and redevelopment of brownfield sites will contribute to Hernando’s community vision to promote urban infill, higher density uses, recruit industrial clients to provide local job opportunities for residents, minimizing flooding and pollution run-off and reducing impervious surface coverage, non-motorized mobility, and phasing out non-compatible uses and preserving historic resources.
“We are thrilled to be working with both cities,” said Hargraves. “Their starting points are quite different - one city is working to build on its momentum and another looking to get a jump start - but both will be successful programs.”