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Wednesday, November 23, 2022

City of Ocala receives $500,000 grant from EPA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has selected the City of Ocala to receive a Brownfield Environmental Assessment grant in the amount of $500,000.

Ocala City Council members formally accepted the grant award during their regular meeting that was held on Tuesday, October 18.

A total of 285 communities were selected for the grant nationwide, and Ocala is one of 11 communities that were selected in the state of Florida.

The grant is intended to be used to conduct outreach, Phase I and Phase II environmental assessments, and cleanup planning. According to the EPA, a brownfield is a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.

Under a cooperative agreement, the City of Ocala and EPA will work together to assess and plan, if needed, for the cleanup of underutilized properties while protecting public health and the environment.

In a media release, the EPA stated the Brownfields Program targets communities that are economically disadvantaged, and it provides funding and assistance to transform blighted sites into assets that can generate jobs and spur economic growth.

The EPA analyzed data near 48 brownfields and found an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional tax revenue for local governments in a single year after cleanup, which is two to seven times more than the $12.4 million that EPA contributed to the cleanup of those brownfield sites.

“Brownfields investments provide critical funding to empower communities to address and reverse the effects of economic stress, particularly in areas that have experienced disinvestment and decay,” said EPA Region 4 Administrator Daniel Blackman.

Blackman added, “This funding will help communities in need transform contaminated sites into community assets, create jobs, jump-start economic development, and protect citizen’s health and the environment.”

According to the City of Ocala, public notices will be issued to announce various actions concerning upcoming grant activities, and city staff will conduct outreach efforts once a cooperative agreement is executed between the EPA and the City of Ocala.