Contaminated properties in East Austin get new cleanup funding

No Dumping sign in East Austin (KXAN Photo)
No Dumping sign in East Austin (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin was selected for an Environmental Protection Agency grant to pay for the cleanup of contaminated properties, mainly in East Austin.

The $820,000 grant will be administered by Austin Brownfields Revitalization Office, an Austin Resource Recovery program started in 1998, the city said Monday.

Brownfields are abandoned, idle or underutilized properties where revitalization has been hindered by environmental contamination. There are hundreds of these properties in East Austin. The city says it’s a result of the 1928 Koch and Fowler City Plan, which weakened zoning restrictions in East Austin.

The weaker zoning restrictions brought in industrial facilities like power plants, fuel tank farms and cement plants.

Funds can be loaned to a public or private entity developing or redeveloping property that will provide local jobs or meet a community need. The terms will be very favorable and flexible, the city of Austin promised. The loans will be available as early as December 2016.

“This new funding source can be used to clean up contaminated properties so they can be redeveloped into parks, playgrounds, affordable housing and many other community projects,” said Bob Gedert, Director, Austin Resource Recovery.

The city of Austin received a $400,000 grant from the EPA in June 2014 to take a closer look at 20 properties contaminated by hazardous materials and waste.

Interested property owners or prospective buyers who have found contamination at a site should apply for a Brownfields cleanup loan online at AustinTexas.gov/Brownfields or contact Christine Whitney at 512-974-6085 for more information.

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