City awarded $300,000 EPA Brownfields Assessment grant

The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has selected the City of Camden for a $300,000 Community-wide 2019 Brownfields Assessment grant in support of the city’s ongoing revitalization and redevelopment efforts. One of only two communities in South Carolina to receive funds, Camden’s goal is to spur more investment and redevelopment of vacant and unused properties throughout the city. “I am pleased to congratulate you and confirm that the City of Camden was selected as one of the entities EPA (to receive) an Assessment Grant,” said David R. Lloyd, Director of the EPA Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization. “The City of Camden submitted an outstanding grant proposal, and we deeply appreciate the tremendous commitment of time and energy that went into its preparation. We fully expect that these brownfield projects will provide benefits to the environment and local economy.”

“The city of Camden is extremely honored and grateful to be awarded this EPA grant,” said Camden Mayor Alfred Mae Drakeford. “The clarification of environmental concerns at our priority redevelopment sites will promote the reuse of our properties and buildings. If redeveloped, these sites will be ready for new commercial or residential use. I also want to thank city staff for their tenacity in pursuing this opportunity, another powerful tool in our economic development tool box.” In addition to City administration, Camden’s EPA grant pursuit team was comprised of its building, public works, fire, planning and economic development departments."

According to City manager Mel Pearson, the City’s historical dependence on certain types of industries and petroleum-related business has left numerous brownfield and blighted sites along the city’s key corridors for commercial and residential growth. “Coupled with Camden’s position as designated Opportunity Zone, making brownfields sites available for redevelopment in areas with existing infrastructure will help us continue to strengthen Camden’s economic competitiveness,” said Pearson. “Our goal is attract investment and redevelopment that will transform these sites into community assets that not only enhance our economic development potential and create jobs, but also improve public health and the environment.”

Pearson said Camden will use the funds to conduct five Phase I and four Phase II environmental site assessments, and develop one cleanup plan. Community-wide petroleum grant funds will be used to conduct three Phase I and two Phase II environmental site assessments, and develop one cleanup plan. Grant funds of both types also will be used to conduct community involvement activities.

Camden was among 149 communities selected to receive funding for brownfield site revitalization to help local governments redevelop vacant and unused properties, transforming communities and local economies. The target area for the grant includes the core area of Camden, the majority of which is a designated Opportunity Zone.

“The city of Camden is challenged by a handful of key brownfields sites and properties that represent priority targets for redevelopment,” said Suzi Sale, city tourism and economic development director.  “Sites include commercial properties, dry cleaning facilities, landfills, maintenance facilities, small manufacturing plants, and gas stations. Improvement at these sites is crucial to the city’s economic vitality.”

A brownfield is a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties increases local tax bases, facilitates job growth, utilizes existing infrastructure, takes development pressures off of undeveloped, open land, and both improves and protects the environment. The EPA Brownfields Program was established in 1995.