The Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfield Community-Wide Assessment Grant is competitive, with only 147 communities throughout the United States earning one this year.

Lodi is one of them.

The EPA has awarded the city of Lodi a $400,000 grant to inventory, prioritize and plan for cleanup and reuse of brownfield sites throughout the city. Brownfield sites are potentially contaminated with pollutants or other hazardous materials, according to the EPA.

While the city can use the funding for a wide variety of revitalization opportunity sites — abandoned, idled or underused property that meets the criteria of a brownfield site — staff hopes to increase the city’s housing stock, City Manager Steve Schwabauer said. To that end, the city is looking for a private property owner who would want to participate in the program.

By focusing on potential housing sites, city staff hope to provide a wider benefit to the community than they could by assessing city-owned property, Schwabauer said.

The current grant will allow the city to assess and evaluate a potential site, searching out potential pollution and contamination, but will not pay for cleanup.

“The grant comes with the potential for future grants that would then pay for any cleanup that was identified in the studies,” Schwabauer said.

As Lodi has already secured a grant this year, it has a much better chance of winning a second grant to clean up the site the city chooses to study.

Schwabauer was grateful for the work of Neighborhood Services manager Joseph Wood, who wrote the grant application. The federal employees who looked over the application were impressed, he said.

According to the EPA, brownfield grants in other communities have increased residential property values, created new jobs and promoted area-wide planning.

Property owners who are interested in participating in the program may call Wood at 209-333-6800, ext. 2467 or email jwood@lodi.gov.

Contact reporter Kyla Cathey at kylac@lodinews.com.

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