Grant will help turn toxic sites into better use

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Austin received a $400,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to take a close look at least 20 properties contaminated by hazardous materials and waste. The idea, to turn what are called “Brownfield” sites into something useful.

“We believe that once these sites are cleaned up, they’ll be able to be used for parks, affordable housing and urban farms,” Mayor pro tem Sheryl Cole said.

Cole points to the Guadalupe Saldana net zero subdivision as an example of a former ‘brownfield’ turned residential, but not every property is eligible.

“We’re looking at community benefit, private properties are eligible,” said Bob Gedert with Austin Resource Recovery, “But they need to go through a community assessment process, they need to demonstrate community benefit.”

The dead end on Harold Court in east Austin is an example where people have dumped so much trash over the years they’ve even installed a camera to try to catch the guilty parties. City officials say there are many like it, they say they won’t let people live in the worst areas.

“There are situations where there are chemicals that are unsafe for residential,” said Christine Whitney, Brownfield program manager, “And that could be turned into commercial industrial.”

Either way project organizers say $400,000 is a great way to start turning trash into treasures.

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