EPA Brownfields funding to revitalize Philadelphia town

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced a $200,000 Brownfields Area-Wide Planning (AWP) grant to Temple University, a comprehensive public research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The grant will help plan for health, environmental and economic improvement's for Philadelphia's North Kensington area residents through the cleanup and reuse of brownfield properties. The area is a 161-acre piece of land and part of the North of Lehigh neighborhood.

"I'm pleased to announce that Temple is the first university to receive an EPA Brownfields area-wide planning grant," said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. "Helping build healthy and resilient communities is an EPA priority. This funding to Temple underscores the University's environmental leadership and commitment to improving the health and future of its neighboring communities."

Temple University's Center for Sustainable Communities will work in collaboration with the New Kensington Community Development Corporation and other community leaders and city organizations. The community will be engaged in planning and designing the future uses of the brownfield property, through participatory photo mapping, focus groups, design workshops and neighborhood meetings. 

The area is a former industrial area, and the residents left behind have been impacted by significant social, public health and environmental concerns. These include the lack of health food availability and accessibility to open spaces. The university hopes to address some of these issues by revitalizing brownfields. Strategies for site reuse tend to lead to increased opportunities for public and private investment and strength local economies.

Nationwide this year, EPA awarded approximately $4 million in area-wide planning grants to 20 communities in 16 states. Since 1995, the agency has approved of 13 brownfields grants totaling $4.6 million to assess and cleanup sites and provide job training in Philadelphia.

Towns should work with environmental consultants to ensure that brownfields are being revitalized properly.