Congressman Pallone Advocates for Legislation to Provide Additional Brownfields Funding in Asbury Park
Long Branch, NJ – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) held a press conference in Asbury Park to advocate for legislation he has introduced to provide additional funding to the EPA’s Brownfields Program, which will help clean up and redevelop brownfields sites across the country. The event took place at a lot next to Springwood Avenue Park, which is being assessed for cleanup and redevelopment with a portion of a $400,000 Brownfields Grant that was awarded to Asbury Park in May.
The Brownfields program was created in 2002 by legislation authored in the House by Pallone and the late Republican Ohio Rep. Paul Gillmor. The program assists communities with the cleanup of former industrial properties where redevelopment is complicated by the presence of environmental contamination. Since 2002, New Jersey has received over $34 million in Brownfields grants. The majority of these funds, approximately $29 million, were awarded for assessment and cleanup efforts.
The program’s authorization expired in 2006 and appropriations for the program have steadily declined. Pallone’s legislation, The Brownfields Authorization Increase Act, increases funding levels for the program and provides more flexibility in what organizations are eligible for the funds. The bill increases overall EPA funding for Brownfields grants, beginning with $350 million in 2017 and increasing by $50 million annually to a total of $600 million in 2022 and beyond.
“Since its creation, the Brownfields program has been an incredibly important tool for protecting public health and spurring economic growth in New Jersey and throughout the country,” Pallone said. “It has made a real difference in communities like Asbury Park and we need to ensure that more communities throughout New Jersey can benefit from this crucial program. The legislation I introduced in July reauthorizes this important program and provides critical funding to local communities to transform former factories, abandoned lots, and other vacant facilities into community centers, parks, and new businesses.”
"Congressman Pallone has always been a great advocate for the people and the environment of Asbury Park, and his efforts are greatly appreciated,” said Asbury Park Mayor John Moor. “When we can do something about these brownfield sites, it has a big impact in the immediate area around the site. It opens the land up for redevelopment, recreation and community gardens, jobs and housing, and strengthens the neighborhood overall."
EPA has found that cleaning up underutilized or abandoned brownfields properties reduces health risks, decreases pollution and reduces storm water runoff. Aside from the environmental benefits, revitalizing these properties can result in crime reduction, job creation, and boosts in the local economy. The program has created more than 97,000 new jobs nationwide.
The $400,000 grant awarded to Asbury Park in May includes a $200,000 community-wide hazardous substances grant that will be used to conduct eight environmental site assessments, and prepare two cleanup plans. In addition, a $200,000 community-wide petroleum grant will be used to assess sites with potential petroleum contamination. This project will focus on the area just west of the train station and the core downtown, where the most of the contaminated sites are located.