NEWARK, NJ - Newark received $800,000 in federal funding to clean up contaminated sites known as brownfields, which could lead to the redevelopment of properties that have been hard to sell.
Newark was one of 149 communities across the country selected by the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection Agency for the Brownfields Multipurpose Grant. A 1,250-acre, heavily industrialized area along the Passaic River in the city's North Ward will be targeted with the grant.
The EPA said Seton Leather Company, a former leather manufacturing facility, and Q Petroleum Incorporated, a former heating fuel oil transfer station, will be prioritized sites.
“These grants fulfill several of President Trump’s top priorities simultaneously: helping communities in need transform contaminated sites into community assets that not only create jobs and jumpstart economic development but also improve public health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in a statement.
A majority of the areas selected for the grants are designated as Opportunity Zones, low-income areas where investors can get tax incentives. Federal legislation co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Cory Booker created Opportunity Zones.
“Brownfields grants have the power to protect New Jersey’s public health communities, and they are a smart economic investment,” Booker said in a statement. “This is the next step in the revitalization of my home, the City of Newark, and will transform sites along the Passaic River from dangerous eyesores to redeveloped areas that can be enjoyed for generations to come.”
Funds will be used to assess sites for hazardous materials and petroleum contamination, develop reuse plans and conduct clean up.
A study of 48 brownfields found that an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional local tax revenue was generated in a single year after the sites were cleaned up, the EPA said. Cleanup contributions from the EPA were significantly less: about $12.4 million.
Property values went up for homes sitting near brownfields following cleanup too, the EPA said.
The EPA said it selected 19% of proposals from urban areas. The other 81% of proposals selected were in non-urban areas with a population of 100,000 or less, according to the EPA.
“With EPA’s Brownfields grants, communities can take contaminated, blighted properties and turn them into usable, environmentally and economically profitable land,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez in a statement. “We are thrilled to work with our state and local partners to fund under-served and disadvantaged communities cleaning up abandoned industrial and commercial properties.”