Because of their industrial history, a number of municipalities in the south suburban region have a concentration of brownfield properties. Brownfields are defined as abandoned or under-used industrial and commercial properties where redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived contamination.Since 2000 SSMMA has been administering projects to address this issue for eight member communities — Burnham, Chicago Heights, Lansing, Markham, Posen, Riverdale, Robbins and South Chicago Heights. All are working together to identify and assess brownfield sites within their borders.
The program is being funded by two $200,000 Assessment grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and eight $240,000 Brownfield Redevelopment Grants from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
The project’s specific objectives are to create a comprehensive inventory of sites, to prioritize these sites according to their potential for redevelopment, perform environmental assessments, plan for reuse of the sites, and establish a brownfields prevention program. During the course of the project, partnerships have been created with federal, state and local agencies to pool financial, personnel, and technical resources. In addition, there has been a heavy emphasis on involving community representatives and other stakeholders in the decision-making process.
This project is taking place at a very opportune time in the south suburban region. Converting land from blight to resource is critical, given the increase in economic development, smart growth and airport programming that the area is experiencing.
Revolving Loan Fund
The South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association has established a Revolving Loan Fund with a $1,000,000 grant from the U.S. EPA, to provide loans and sub grants to its members and to the private sector for performing cleanup activities at selected brownfield sites.SSMMA developed an implementation plan for the program, and has primary responsibility for marketing as well as for servicing the loans. A group of banking officials who also serve on the Advisory Committee for SSMMA’s Brownfields Assessment program will review loan and sub-grant applications and help select borrowers. The Illinois EPA’s Office of Brownfields Assistance has provided sample loan documents that will be utilized. In addition, the Illinois EPA will provide direct oversight of remediation activities at each site to ensure compliance with state requirements.
The goal of the revolving loan fund is to provide resources for the cleanup phase, so that brownfield properties can be redeveloped and return to productive use and eventually stimulate the creation of new jobs, increase tax revenues, and generally improve the quality of life in the south suburban Chicago region. The loan funds are available to private sector businesses in SSMMA’s member communities as well as to its member municipalities.For further information please contact Reggie Greenwood at (708)922-4671.
Information About Past and Present Remediation Sites
The Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation maintains a webpage dedicated to brownfield sites that have gone through remediation and that are currently going through remediation. To read more about past projects Please Click Here.