Walker County and the cities of Chickamauga, LaFayette and Rossville will share a $500,000 grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency to perform brownfield assessments and develop cleanup plans on up to 30 sites.
A number of sites will be assessed with redevelopment in mind. They include the Crystal Springs Print Works Mill in Chickamauga and the former Peerless Woolen Mills in Rossville. “These sites are primed for redevelopment due to their city center locations,” said Elizabeth Wells, Economic Development Consultant, LaFayette/Rossville. “But, environmental contamination and the cost of cleanup have inhibited site reuse. Through environmental assessment and site-specific risk screening, these properties can be cleared for redevelopment.”
Redevelopment plans for these sites could include affordable housing and commercial storefronts, as well as green space. “Brownfield redevelopment will promote economic success for these communities, including new employment opportunities, increased property values and additional tax revenue, which will help to provide improved health outcomes and quality of life,” said Shannon Whitfield, Chair, Walker County Board of Commissioners.
“The support of our state partners played a key role in Walker County being awarded this grant,” added Whitfield. “Our communities lack the funding to initiate a brownfield program on our own, due to the vast number of brownfield sites from the mill industry. Senator Jeff Mullis, Representative Mike Cameron and Representative Steve Tarvin helped us make a case for using grant dollars to augment local resources so brownfield assessments can support economic development goals and diminish blight.”
The grant includes funding to contract with an environmental consultant to assist with the brownfield assessments, which will begin later this year. A plan for each site identified for cleanup will be developed to include an evaluation of cleanup alternatives, calculated cleanup costs, and site appropriate remediation and reuse to reduce health and environmental risks.