A presentation on the Brownfield Initiative was given to the Brawley City Council Tuesday evening by Sean Wilcock, vice president of Business Development at the Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation, in an effort to move forward on reviewing vacant sites and improving the Brawley downtown district.
A brownfield is a former industrial or commercial site where future use is affected by real or perceived environmental contamination. These types of sites include, but are not limited to, former service stations, oil and gas sites, salvage yards, illicit dump sites, landfills, and abandoned/occupied buildings. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, only 30 percent of properties examined ever pose a threat to the public.
Wilcock said the IVEDC, in partnership with the Imperial County Transport Commission, was successful in obtaining a $300,000 grant from the EPA that will allow for the clean up of Brawley properties.
The program will also address concerns of site owners not moving to make any progress on cleaning up their vacant or non-vacant properties.
“This is a great program for anyone is looking to buy property, sell property, or even redevelop their property in the city of Brawley,” said Wilcock.
The Brawley initiative will assist in the development of brownfield site inventories, conducting community involvement activities, environmental site assessments, and cleanup planning for sites that fall within the Brawley Downtown Specific Plan Area and are publicly served by the Brawley Gold Line Transit Route.
It was also noted a reduction of brownfield sites will improve the economy in Brawley. Wilcock added retail could be coaxed back to the city and possibly produce a boost in that area.
The initiative will start with Phase 1 surveys for asbestos, lead, and HazMat. Phase 2 will include investigations in whether the project will meet EPA requirements, the design and scope of the project that should match end-use/development, and identification of efficiencies through smart Phase 2 design and appropriate scale.
Wilcock assured the council the Brownfields Initiative will be given to site owners who are ready to commit to rebuilding on their property. The money will not be offered to just anyone who wants a survey. Only properties that are planning to go through Phase 2 will be eligible for the monies.
“We don’t want to spend this money on a property and then have it sit idle,” said Wilcock. “We are not handing out money so that people can do their Phase 1 assessments and then do nothing.”
Brawley was considered the community with the most need, according to Wilcock, and will be considered for project monies first. Eventually, IVEDC wants to move outward to other cities.
In other business, the city council took action to authorize the upgrades to the City of Brawley Communications Center using the Federal Asset Forfeiture Funds in the amount of $33,942.52.
The council also approved the Microsoft Enterprise Volume Software Licensing Agreement for email, business software, and operating systems in the amount of $31,981.91 per year for three years.
There will be a community outreach event for business owners and the public about the Brownfield Initiative October 11 at the Del Rio Community Center in Brawley. Sean Wilcock can be contacted for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-353-8332.