In 2014 ($400,000) and then again in 2017 ($300,000), Sheboygan County was awarded Brownfield Assessment Grants from the USEPA. These grants are nationwide and highly competitive, but because of the excellent intergovernmental and strong public/private relationships that exist in Sheboygan County, we have been able to garner success. 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. The funding made available to Sheboygan County can include Phase I (historical overview of the property and its past uses) and Phase II (a more detailed study if the Phase I recommends further study of potentially polluted areas that can include soil and water sampling to determine what, if any, pollutants are present) assessments as well as supplemental sampling. Once the Phase II and/or supplemental sampling are complete, a developer will know what needs to be cleaned up and to what extent prior to redeveloping a site.
The 2014 grant provided environmental assessment work on over $30 million in redevelopment projects. Some of the projects include the former Boston Store site, the former Tri-Par gas site, the former tannery in Sheboygan Falls, and the former JJ Koepsell building site. If the projects come to fruition, the 2017 grant will have also completed work on projects that will likely tally over $30 million. Projects from this grant include the former tannery just north of Indiana Avenue (over $100,000), the VanderVaart site, the current Water’s Edge redevelopment project site, and properties along Commerce Street that are set for redevelopment opportunities.
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.”