Mayor Sly James and Mayor Mark Holland joined today at the Google Fiber Space in Kansas CIty, Missouri to celebrate the start of the One-KC Brownfields Coalition, an innovative new grant funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. EPA Regional Administrator Karl Brooks presented the mayors with a $600,000 grant award to help both cities identify and assess environmental contamination on idle and blighted brownfield properties. After undergoing beautification and safety assurance processes, the properties could be utilized as community gardens, new business ventures and green space. The Mid-America Regional Council, the third partner in this new bi-state coalition, will tie the project into its regional initiatives in workforce development, economic growth and sustainability.
“It’s fitting that for our first joint project, Mayor Holland and I announce an innovative project that will transform neighborhoods in the region,” said Mayor James. “Google Fiber continues to pay dividends for our residents and this is another example of our communities benefiting from such cutting-edge technology. Transforming neighborhoods is great, but making them attractive to the very people who will lead the economy of the future is even better.”
“I’m excited about the opportunities this EPA grant will provide not only for Kansas City, Kansas, but for our entire metro region,” Mayor Holland said. “Partnerships like this help us leverage resources for regional revitalization efforts that will make a significant impact on the quality of life of our residents. I’m looking forward to continued collaboration as we move forward with the implementation of this much needed funding.”
The four focus areas of the grant are urban agriculture, infrastructure investment, workforce development and high-speed Internet access. Environmental assessment will assist siting community gardens, urban farms, orchards and aquaculture facilities. Brownfield industrial properties will be targeted for help in those areas where investments in roads, sewers and other infrastructure could attract new business investment. Firms that perform grant-funded work will be encouraged to hire local residents newly certified in environmental specialties, like asbestos inspection and hazardous materials handling.
The grant also will leverage Kansas City’s unique access to high-speed Internet. A number of residents will receive Internet access and technology to better inform the community and collaborate on brownfield grant activities. High-speed Internet access will also be used to target Brownfield assistance where it can make new living and work space, and commercial properties, safe and attractive for entrepreneurs.
The grant project generally targets the bi-state downtown and industrial region and is bounded by 18th Street in Kansas City, Kansas, on the west, 43rd Avenue to the south, the Missouri River to the north, and in Kansas City, Missouri, Prospect Avenue to the east, 31st Street to the south and the downtown airport to the north. The bi-state grant project will continue for three years and will fund a minimum of 25 projects through an approximately equal distribution of assistance in both states.