$500,000 brownfields grant to help redevelop Manatee County
MANATEE -- After purchasing properties in Bradenton to develop affordable housing, it occurred to Manatee County Habitat for Humanity officials the properties could be perceived as "brownfields."
Diana Shoemaker, executive director of Manatee County Habitat for Humanity, said the organization plans to explore Manatee County Brownfields Coalition Grant Program for these properties and potential future properties, which would be a first for the organization.
"It could be a very good opportunity for us," Shoemaker said.
Shoemaker was one of about 20 individuals who attended Wednesday's public workshop at the Central Library on the three-year $500,000 brownfields grant Manatee County, in partnership with Bradenton, Palmetto and the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization, received from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Brownfields are "real estate properties where future development or use is affected by real or perceived environmental contamination," according to a county document.
Assessing potential sites will be done in two categories -- hazardous material or petroleum material. There is $300,000 available for hazardous substances and $200,000 for petroleum.
While properties along Tamiami Trail will be prioritized, other properties in Bradenton, Palmetto and unincorporated Manatee County will be considered. Typical eligible sites are former gas stations, dry cleaners, junk yards and automotive repair shops.
"They are expected to promote cleanup of properties, leverage funds for public and private development, rejuvenate the economy and improve quality of life," said Ivan Groom, redevelopment coordinator with county neighborhood services.
Michael Gallen, vice president of public policy and small business at Manatee Chamber of Commerce, said he attended the workshop to see how the chamber can help.
"One of the chamber's goals is urban infill, revitalization, downtown revitalization as well, so anything we can do to help facilitate that and bring parties together," he said.
Representatives from the cities of Bradenton and Palmetto and the county detailed ways previous brownfields grants have helped.
"I think it is important that we all work together to make things happen," said Tim Polk, city of Bradenton planning and community development director. "We want to have a beautiful county and beautiful jurisdictions in the county. ... I know it's important that we plan ahead if we want to get ahead."
Information about the grant: Go to mymanatee.org/brownfields or call 941-749-3029, ext. 6232.
Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter@Claire_Aronson.