Special to The Dallas Examiner
The Environmental Protection Agency awarded the city of Dallas a Brownfields Assessment Coalition Grant in the amount of $600,000.00 with an initial focus targeting the revitalization of the South Dallas/Fair Park area. Mayor Eric Johnson accepted the award on behalf of the city of Dallas from Ken McQueen, EPA Region 6 Administrator, on a joint conference call. Also, present were nonprofit members from the city formed coalition: The Real Estate Council Foundation, St. Phillips School and Community Center and the Lone Star Justice Alliance. The grant was one of three awarded to Texas cities.
“I welcome EPA’s decision for making this wise investment in South Dallas Fair Park Area and look forward to the positive impact these new federal dollars will have on communities with brownfield sites ready for cleanup and redevelopment. I also congratulate the Brownfields Assessment Coalition for working together on this effort and securing this EPA grant that is critical to cleaning up our environment and creating the necessary conditions to further draw new businesses and people to our community,” said Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, TX-30.
“We are proud to partner with the EPA, and we are thrilled to receive this grant, which will help facilitate community-oriented revitalization of brownfields in Dallas,” said Mayor Eric Johnson. “I am particularly excited about the potential of this tool to help us reverse economic disinvestment and health disparities in South Dallas caused in part by longstanding environmental hazards. Despite these myriad challenges and historic neglect, the people of South Dallas have built a vibrant community. Inclusive efforts such as this one are important to further strengthening that sense of community, restoring economic vitality, and improving public health.”
The EPA Brownfields Assessment Grant is designed to address properties, called brownfields, with actual or perceived contamination, that often complicates the reuse and development of the infrastructure or the land. The city-led coalition will utilize the grant funds to revitalize priority brownfields sites. Thereby helping to address the socioeconomic challenges facing the community. The primary target areas include the 277 acre Fair Park campus and surrounding neighborhoods, the 2 mile long Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Corridor and the 72 acre neighborhood surrounding St. Philip’s School and Community Center. A preliminary brownfields inventory identifies over 100 suspected contaminated properties within the target area. The grant makes possible site inventory, identification and assessment of contamination, as well as information delivery and engagement.
“With signature spaces like Victory Plaza and thousands of acres of redeveloped properties, Dallas has shown that great things can start with a Brownfields grant from EPA,” said Regional Administrator Ken McQueen. “This grant will provide more opportunities to revitalize derelict properties and reinvest in local communities.”
Three specific areas are outlined in the $600,000 grant: Fair Park with the Ford Assembly Plant and city-owned property on Oak Lawn, St. Phillips Focus Area with Auto Repair Shops on Pennsylvania Avenue, Proctor and Gamble Industrial Complex and derelict retail buildings on Holmes Street, the MLK Corridor Focus Area with Historic Ford Theater and former Jim’s Carwash on MLK Jr. Boulevard. It is anticipated the grant will be available for use by October 2020.
In terms of brownfields revitalization and reuse, the city of Dallas and its partners have an impressive track record of collaboration by leveraging multiple resources in support of the processes. The EPA, the city and its nonprofit partners believe that effective community engagement is key to the success of brownfields reclamation work. Relationships built by the coalition partners and other committed groups address the fears and the hopes of South Dallas. This component makes sure community input is heard and higher numbers of the community are engaged in the overall process. The objectives of bringing new economic vibrancy to the area by increasing the tax base and improving the environment result in a brighter future for everyone.