Columbus gets Brownfields grant

By The Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Miss. (AP) — Columbus officials expect to get a project under way in 2013 to identify possibly contaminated properties for renewal.

City planner Christina Berry tells the Commercial Dispatch (http://bit.ly/TZHWjX) that the city had a $400,000 Brownfields Assessment Grant for the project.

“The grant will allow us to assess properties to see if they have contaminants and clear them for development. If we do find contaminants, we can get more money to clean up the contaminants,” Berry said.

She said the project has two phases. The first is the assessment of the properties. If contaminates are found, Berry said phase two will allow the consultants to actually get soil sample tests from the contaminated property.

Berry said the city has already identified 30 properties that might qualify for the assessment and is asking residents to help identify other properties that might be contaminated.

“I have created a proposed policy regarding the brownfields guidelines I’m hoping the council will approve at the next board meeting,” Berry said.

Berry also has a proposed ranking system to identify “marketable sites that meet developer needs and determine sites that best promote economic development in Columbus.”

“If there is an area of town where someone has a vacated cleaners or gas station, they may qualify for an assessment. Because of the limited funds that are available, we will have some criteria regarding ranking the assessments.

“If there is a site that a developer is interested in and has the financing lined up, this site will move to the top of the list,” she said.

The program is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency.