Brownfields are abandoned, idle, or underutilized industrial and commercial properties where redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination. Brownfields can be as small as an old corner gas station or as large as a manufacturing facility.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfield Program helps communities address potential health risks and restore the economic viability of brownfield properties.
In late May 2015, the EPA awarded the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government a $200,000 brownfields cleanup grant. Hazardous substances grant funds will be used to clean up the former Fayette County Courthouse at 215 West Main Street. The building was constructed in 1898 and operated as the community's judicial center until 2002. From 2002 until 2012, the building was used to provide museum space and to assist with Lexington Farmers' Market operations. Contaminants at the site include metals, inorganic materials, mold, and guano.
Earlier, Lexington had received $400,000 in EPA Brownfield Program Assessment Grant funds to assess Fayette County brownfield sites. The funds are being used to identify potential brownfield sites that could benefit by being assessed, to perform environmental site assessments, and to develop cleanup plans. Half of the funds are being used for properties that may be contaminated by petroleum, with the remaining half being used for properties that may be contaminated with hazardous substances.
Participation in the Assessment Grant Program is voluntary for property owners, and the site assessments and cleanup plans are performed at no cost. This is a community-wide assessment grant that can be used on any property in the county that meets eligibility requirements.
Assessing brownfield properties in our community is the first step in developing a plan to revitalize and reclaim these pieces of property.