NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has selected the tri-county region as one of 19 communities nationally to receive a portion of nearly $4 million for assistance in planning the cleanup and reuse of brownfield sites.
The EPA this month announced that it was awarding the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments (BCDCOG) a $200,000 grant to further redevelopment planning for a 4.3 square-mile corridor in the Neck Area of Charleston and North Charleston as part of the federal Brownfields Area-Wide Planning (AWP) program.
BCDCOG will use the funds to work with the community and other stakeholders in developing a plan and implementation strategy for the Charleston Neck, a location the EPA noted for its “extraordinarily high density of brownfields and other environmentally impaired properties.” Development of the Brownfields Area Wide Plan will complement the Partnership for Prosperity master plan for the Neck Area.
“The Neck Area is a sensitive environment with tremendous potential that has long been blighted by brownfields and numerous other environmental issues,” said BCD COG Executive Director Ron Mitchum. “This grant, obtained through the work of BCDCOG staff, will allow our agency to collaborate with community partners and drive forward what we believe will be an incredible regeneration.”
The grant program is aimed at helping communities plan improvements such as housing, transportation, recreation and open space, education and health facilities, social services, renewed infrastructure, increased commerce and employment opportunities, according to the EPA.
“The Area-Wide Planning grant program is an innovation initiated by the Obama Administration to empower communities to transform economically and environmentally distressed areas, including communities impacted by manufacturing plant closures, into vibrant future destinations for business, jobs, housing and recreation,” said Mathy Stanislaus, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management. “These grants provide the opportunity for communities to determine for themselves revitalization plans that best meet their vision and needs based on a rigorous analysis of market and infrastructure in a manner that benefits and does not displace long-term residents.”
Broadly the AWP is intended to advance planning and actions necessary to resolve issues such as poor drainage, deteriorating streets and traffic. It also will tackle brownfield site remediation and revitalization, and support businesses in developing and promoting a positive economic image for the community, according to EPA officials.
Prioritization and order of site redevelopment work will be performed at five Neck Area “catalyst” sites. Criteria also will be developed to:
- Maximize integration of green and healthy design
- Promote sustainable development compatible with future site use within the surrounding area
- Lessen the impact to surface waters of the Cooper and Ashley Rivers
- Ensure living-wage job creation
Key partners who will work with BCDCOG include the Sustainability Institute; Metanoia; St. Peters AME Church; S.C. Community Loan Fund; S.C. State Ports Authority; Charleston County; and the cities of Charleston and North Charleston.