The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency selected 149 communities across the country including the Municipality of Naranjito to receive funding for brownfield site revitalization to help local governments redevelop vacant and unused properties, transforming communities and local economies.
The mountain town will receive a $300,000 Brownfields Assessment Grant to assess sites for hazardous substances and petroleum contamination.
Grant funds will also be used to prepare cleanup plans, update and prioritize a brownfield inventory, and conduct community involvement activities. The target areas for this grant are the PR5/152 Corridor and the Anones District, the EPA’s Caribbean Environmental Protection Division Director Carmen Guerrero said.
“With EPA’s Brownfields grants, communities can take contaminated, blighted properties and turn them into usable, environmentally and economically profitable land,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete López.
“We’re thrilled to work with our state and local partners to fund under-served and disadvantaged communities cleaning up abandoned industrial and commercial properties,” he said.
Of the 149 communities selected nationwide, 108 have identified sites or targeted areas in census tracts designated as federal Opportunity Zones.
An Opportunity Zone is an economically-distressed community where new investment, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment.
The grant to the Municipality of Naranjito will address Opportunity Zones in targeted areas, the EPA said.
As of May 2019, under the EPA Brownfields Program 30,153 properties have been assessed, and 86,131 acres of idle land have been made ready for productive use. In addition, communities have been able to use Brownfields grants to leverage 150,120 jobs and more than $28 billion of public and private funding.