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DENVER-The Environmental Protection Agency awarded $200,000 to Parkhill Community Inc., the nonprofit arm of a Denver Brownfield remediation company that is cleaning up the blighted Dahlia Square in northeast Denver. It also awarded $400,000 in two grants to the City of Lakewood for environmental assessment and cleanup activities along the planed West light rail corridor in the West line, along West 13th Avenue.

The grants are among communities in 44 states that will share more than $75 million in EPA Brownfields grants to help revitalize former industrial and commercial sites, transforming them from eyesores into community assets, according to the federal agency. There were more than 600 applicants, an EPA official told GlobeSt.com.

The grant to Parkhill Community will help clean up Dahlia Square, which was built on top of a landfill. The environmental clean-up is estimated at $8.3 million, according to the Denver Urban Renewal Authority, which is spearheading the effort and chose Parkhill Community.

The grant will help the community close the financial gap created by environmental contaminants and will allow the community to proceed with plans to sell the property for redevelopment into a mix of attached residential units, senior housing and commercial and civic facilities. Community members have been trying to redevelopDahlia Square, once the heart of the Northeast Park Hill neighborhood, for more than 20 years. Area residents and city officials view the site as a detriment to both the safety and economic viability of surrounding neighborhoods.

EPA also selected the City of Lakewood for two brownfields assessment grants totaling $400,000. These funds will allow the community to assess and develop cleanup plans for sites near about a six-mile stretch along the west corridor in Lakewood. The funds also will help the city address deteriorating industrial and commercial districts along the once prominent mile-wide transit corridor between West 13th and West Colfax avenues. The city plans to update the aging freight rail corridor with light rail, enabling redevelopment to occur at the same time the metro Denver region undertakes a major transportation upgrade, the $4.7-billion FasTracks approved by voters last November.

“For example, we are going to look for petroleum in the ground in old car wrecking place that could be redeveloped into housing,” Frank Gray, Lakewood’s director of community planning and development, tells GlobeSt.com. “There might be some more serious problems in the Lakewood Industrial Park, where there are old manufacturers and dry cleaners with underground storage tanks that are leaking and are creating plumes. We want to assess these high risk areas, to determine the scope of the problem and the cost of remediation.”

“These grants give local partnerships the ability to address environmental issues at sites that are being transformed into vital assets,” says EPA assistant regional administrator Max Dodson. “In addition to improving the environment, they are investments in the future that help communities achieve important economic redevelopment and social goals.”

EPA’s brownfields program promotes redevelopment of America’s estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites. Since its inception in 1995, the program has awarded 709 assessment grants totaling over $190 million, 189 revolving loan fund grants for cleanup worth more than $165 million and $26.8 million for 150 direct cleanup grants.

According to the EPA, brownfield assistance has led to more than $7 billion in public and private investment in cleanup and redevelopment, helped create more than 31,000 jobs and resulted in the assessment of more than 5,100 properties.

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