SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Interim Director John Kim has announced that it has awarded the City of Rockford a $1 million River Edge Municipal Brownfield Redevelopment Grant to assist it with its long-term Brownfields environmental cleanup and redevelopment efforts.
“I have been committed to making sure Rockford and communities around Illinois have the tools needed to continue putting people to work and growing local economies. This funding builds on the commitment by enabling the city to convert abandoned structures into something that will continue to support this area,” Governor Pat Quinn said. “Redeveloping these brownfield sites will create jobs now and in the long-term as these businesses continue to expand and boost the Rockford economy.”
“River communities such as Rockford were the foundation of Illinois economy at one time,” said Director Kim. “Many of these underutilized and abandoned properties along major waterways are ideal for redevelopment and have a great potential for growth.”
Rockford will use the grant funds to do environmental investigation and cleanup work at three sites: the former Tapco facility, former Depot site, and former Lorden/Eclipse site, all of which are located along South Main Street in Rockford. The overall goal of the grant is to fund cleanup activities to make way for the expansion of Davis Park into the former Tapco facility site and the return of passenger rail to Rockford at the former Depot and Lorden/Eclipse sites. All three target sites have been acquired by the City of Rockford.
The City has conducted initial environmental site investigation activities at the sites and will use the State grant funds to complete site assessment activities, prepare corrective action plans and implement remedial action at all three locations. The investigation and cleanup activities will be conducted by the City under review and approval of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
River Edge Redevelopment Zones, of which Rockford is one, consist of environmentally challenged areas that lie adjacent to rivers and have economic development potential, but the cost of redevelopment has made attracting investment extremely difficult.
Brownfields are abandoned, idled or underused industrial and commercial properties that have actual or perceived contamination and an active potential for redevelopment. While brownfields were once considered to be only an environmental health issue, they are now recognized as areas with the potential to play a vital role in the economic development of a community. In Illinois, there are an estimated 7,000-10,000 brownfields sites in need of remediation.
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