Every time a manufacturing plant or a gas station closes, contaminants from the usage of the chemicals needed to run the place remain in the soil, water, and sometimes even the air. These pollutants can be hazardous not only to the health of people who live nearby, but also to the community/city/region as a whole. Plus run-down gas stations are a total eyesore.
Economic developers, city/region planners, community activists, and government agencies often take on the tasks of redeveloping these contaminated “brownfields.” The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), specifically, has taken a lead role in its activity to redevelop and revitalize these sites. Especially since many of them are located near residences and valuable pieces of infrastructure.
The EPA defines a brownfield site as “real property, the expansion, redevelopment or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.” Better than just left alone looking ugly, hurting the environment, and potentially creating blight, city/county partners and communities should work together to create a plan to redevelop these brownfields.
One way this becomes possible is by way of applying for a Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Grant issued by the EPA. Such plan not only draws federal help (via money, technical assistance, research, and training from the EPA), but also opens the door for strong cooperation in the community to transform a health hazard into perhaps a retail center, another manufacturing site or gas station, or a community center, or whatever those in the community plan for it to be. This could bring jobs to the area, spur new business growth, strengthen community ties, and increase quality of life.