The Sheboygan County Planning & Conservation Department was chosen as a recipient of a $400,000 Brownfield Assessment Grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2014.
Brownfields are defined by the EPA as real property for which re-use or development could be “…complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.” Partially due to its rich history of manufacturing and agricultural development from the mid-1800s, coupled with intensive industrial development over the years, Sheboygan County has areas in need of site cleanup and revitalization. Although brownfield sites might be well-positioned for or be especially conducive to re-development, they cannot be built upon or put to new use if the possibility of hazardous substance contamination exists. As a result, the County can miss out on attractive commercial or residential development.
Funds have been used to perform a variety environmental site assessments. Additionally, the tasks included inventorying potentially contaminated sites, creating an interactive mapping database for these sites, and conducting community involvement and outreach activities. Examples of some of the sites assessments that have been completed include the old Boston Store site in downtown Sheboygan, the old tannery site in downtown Sheboygan Falls, as well as the former Tri-Par Gas Station site across from the old Martin Pontiac in Sheboygan. Thus far, the assessments have helped spur over $20 million in redevelopment projects.
Planning, Resources, Agriculture, and Extension Committee Chairman Keith Abler noted, “Identifying and better understanding these areas is a great first step towards increased economic development opportunities, cleaning up areas of our community, and making Sheboygan County an even better place to live and work.”