Several Upstate communities have been awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars from the EPA to clean up what are known as “brownfield” properties. A “brownfield” is an abandoned industrial or commercial site that’s sitting in limbo because of concerns about pollution.
As Upstate communities evolve from mill towns to modern cities, there’s a lot of work to be done.
“Like most Southern communities, the decline of the textile industry left us with many abandoned properties,” said Steffanie Dorn, who is the finance director of Greenwood, S.C.
Community leaders are hoping hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants from the EPA will help rebuild their economies.
Pelzer, S.C. and Greenwood, S.C. have each been awarded $200,000 to clean up old mills so that land can be put to use again. The cities of Greenville, S.C. Clinton, S.C. and Pickens, S.C. are each receiving $300,000 to assess property to make sure they’re also safe for new businesses and parks.
“These grants help provide the change, the catalyst that can lead to a very broad economic resurgence,” said EPA regional administrator Trey Glenn. “I’ve personally seen that. You’ve seen that. Many of you live that every day.”
Greenville Vice Mayor Pro-tem Amy Doyle pointed to Falls Park as an example of how environmental investment can yield big returns, saying the $13 million the community invested in Falls Park generated $300 million in private investment.
Now, leaders at City Hall are hoping to use the money from their grant to begin the work of building a 60 acre park in the West End, Doyle said. The project includes affordable housing and community gardening.
“We want it to be mixed income renters and homeowners,” Doyle said. “We want community recreational interests. We want neighborhood-based business. We want to address the job opportunities that are now not there.”