The Will County Center for Economic Development is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a $400,000 Brownfields Assessment grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. This grant provides funding to identify sites and conduct a range of planning activities, develop site specific clean-up plans, and community outreach related to brownfield sites with an emphasis on the Des Plaines River corridor in Will County. Brownfield sites are those contaminated by hazardous substances, pollutants, and contaminants. Once remediated, former brownfield properties can be redeveloped into a variety productive uses.
“Turning vacant or underutilized spaces into thriving community hubs is one of the cornerstones of our Rebuild Illinois infrastructure plan, and I’m pleased to see the Biden Administration provide funding for brownfields revitalization in Will County,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “This support marks another milestone in our journey to advance educational, environmental, economic and health justice for all Illinois residents.”
“Thank you to the U.S. EPA for providing the opportunity and funding for Will County to assess areas of environmental concern,” said Doug Pryor, President and CEO of Will County Center for Economic Development. “This grant will serve as a catalyst for needed cleanup and create opportunities for new growth in long disinvested areas of Will County. This work will help promote private investment, create jobs, and encourage growth in the County’s communities.”
The Center for Economic Development worked closely with the communities of Joliet, Lockport, and Rockdale and the County of Will through the application process. These communities helped develop an outstanding case highlighting Will County’s need to address the environmental and human health issues in brownfield areas.
“This grant is an important first step in empowering community-focused development in these neglected areas,” said Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant. “By eliminating blight and reducing the risk of environmental contamination in this region, we are supporting greener, healthier neighborhoods, as well as needed economic development.”
“We are looking forward to utilizing this opportunity to create positive outcomes for Joliet by removing environmental barriers to growth and opportunity,” added Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk. “Thank you to the Center for Economic Development and United States Environmental Protection Agency Region V for your partnership.”
“Many brownfield sites across the country are in ‘downtown’ areas revealing that cities and towns were often built up in conjunction with one another. These vacated industrial sites are in prime, walkable locations where people live,” Lockport Mayor Steven Streit said. “There is wisdom in investing money to repurpose such brownfields. Restoring them back into functional places means there is one less bit of prime farmland being over-turned for new development on the far edge of town. Building back walkable, thriving communities where people both live AND work is the blueprint of civilizations since settlements first began. I applaud our lawmakers for making funds available to assist in the cleanup of these strategic places.”
“I would like to thank U.S. EPA for the $400,000 of funding for the Brownfield Assessment grant for the Village of Rockdale and our neighboring communities,” said Sam Wyke, Mayor of Rockdale. “Investment in brownfields programs in communities like Rockdale has had a positive impact throughout the nation. Our community was settled by workers of companies and businesses involved with heavy industries that provided many jobs. Now, most of the industrial sites have been vacant or underutilized for several generations. We need to determine the unrealized potential and opportunities of the unused industrial sites. Turning polluted properties back into productive real estate will help us bring the jobs back to our Village. The grant will improve public health and safety and will also increase the tax base.”