The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency visited Orem on Wednesday to present the city with a $300,000 grant and to tour the industrial brownfield areas along Geneva Road.
The grant is to help businesses do environmental assessments, cleanup and redevelopment of the brownfield sites.
According to EPA definition, a brownfield is a property for which the expansion, redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant.
There are estimated to be more than 450,000 brownfields in the U.S., according to the EPA.
Orem is among 149 communities selected to receive EPA Brownfields grants totaling $64.6 million through a Multipurpose, Assessment and Cleanup grant program.
According to Jason Bench, Orem planning division manager, the city received a $200,000 grant in 2017 to do assessments. This is the next step to help with specific properties.
The areas being looked at are between 400 South and 1600 North between Geneva Road and Interstate 15.
This is part of the process to help with the revitalization of Geneva Road. According to Bench, a full master plan for that revitalization will be brought to the Orem City Council in July.
“The plan is to adopt something like the State Street Master Plan that created districts,” Bench said.
It is anticipated Geneva Road will not only be revitalized, but widened in the years to come as it becomes another major arterial road.
“EPA brownfields grants help transform blighted properties into community assets,” said EPA Regional Administrator Gregory Sopkin in a press release. “Our success depends upon finding strong partners like the City of Orem, whose leaders are working strategically to create new economic opportunities and amenities for their residents.”
Environmental assessments at several properties in the Geneva Road area will include former power generation facilities, auto and junk yards, waste transfer stations, parking lots, and other properties where the evaluation of potential contamination will identify any cleanup needs.
According to the EPA, the brownfields project is the latest in a series of successful property assessment, cleanup and redevelopment efforts in Utah communities supported by the EPA in coordination with its local partners at the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.
“I want to thank the EPA for their grant funding to help improve this important area of our city,” said Mayor Richard Brunst.
“These EPA brownfields grants reflect the power of partnership and will help accomplish our overriding goals of healthier people, healthier communities and a healthier economy,” said Alan Matheson, Utah Department of Environmental Quality Executive Director, in the press release.
The Geneva Road master plan represents a community-driven vision and master plan for the renewal of the area that will improve the health, safety, environmental quality, employment opportunities, transportation options and business development of the corridor, according to Bench.