Council learns more about grant fund to help revitalize properties in Austin
Published 6:20 pm Tuesday, July 18, 2023
The Austin City Council on Monday night heard more regarding a well of grant money available to them over the next three years that can be spent toward bringing contaminated properties back to life.
From Dec. 1 of last year and stretching through to Nov. 30, 2025, the City of Austin will have access to $500,000 in grant money from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Brownfield Community program. The money, 100% funded through the program without any need for matching funds from the city, can be accessed for properties that have been previously contaminated either by petroleum or hazardous substances.
“People are a little shy diving into those parcels,” said the project’s Heidi Pepper.
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The money can also be used for both public and private projects.
The goals of the program are to prioritize and complete environment assessments and planning activities as well as assist with redevelopment and reuse of the sites and setting city and property owners up to leverage other funding.
The program, which is early in the process for Austin, will first look at developing an inventory of sites that are available for redevelopment. The next steps will involve creating a priority list of those sites, ranking and finally nominating the sites best suited for the grant funding.
Those nominations would next go to the EPA and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for approval followed by clean-up planning activities.
Lindsey Brown, also with the Brownfield Community Program, laid out three target sites in Austin that could be eyed first for the program’s money. These include:
• Oakland Avenue between 14th Street NW and the Cedar River;
• Main Street, one block on both sides of Oakland Avenue; and
• The old Soo Line Railroad Corridor between Interstate 90 and Dobbins Creek.
More information, as well as a site nomination form, can be found at: https://www.ci.austin.mn.us/brownfields.
In other news:
The council affirmed a contract with WHKS for design services related to a 2025 project that will rebuild both of Austin’s one-ways — Oakland Avenue and First Avenue.
The cost of the contract comes to $744,820. City Engineer Steven Lang said the hope is to open bidding in December of 2024 and for work to begin in 2025, a prerequisite in securing the over $4 million in grants the city has secured for the projects.
Lang also said he expects the project to be competed in three phases over the span of three years.