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Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments or TARCOG has received a $1.5-million grant from the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA for assessments for environmental cleanup and redevelopment planning. CONTRIBUTED

TARCOG lands $1.5-million grant from EPA for cleanup

MADISON – Residents in three areas of North Alabama will benefit from improvement of potential environmental concerns because of a $1.5 million grant that Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments or TARCOG has received.

The Environmental Protection Agency or EPA is providing the Federal Brownfield Assessment Grant, which will allow assessments for environmental cleanup and redevelopment planning in Athens, Fort Payne and Gurley.

The funding involves a grant for ‘Federal Brownfield Assessment.’ This type of grant is associated with EPA’s Brownfields Program that empowers states, communities and other stakeholders. These entities work together to safely clean up and reuse brownfield sites.

A brownfield site is real property. Expanding, redeveloping or reusing this property can be complicated because of the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant. Congress has passed legislation to help states to clean up and revitalize brownfield sites.

TARCOG is preparing its procedures to determine the required work for transforming areas with potential concerns.

TARCOG will use the funding to develop 15 cleanup plans and prepare three revitalization plans, Lee Terry said. Terry is Economic Development and Planning Director for TARCOG. In each of the communities, engagement activities will gather input on redevelopment potential over the next four years.

Executive Director Michelle Jordan said she is proud of the TARCOG team that landed the grant. She is excited for what the funding will mean for Athens and Limestone County, as well as Gurley and Fort Payne. “This will be the starting point for positive changes in each of these areas,” Jordan said.

Assessment activities will focus on specific sites:

* Easy Street corridor in Athens’ downtown district.

* Corridor for Gault Avenue Corridor in Fort Payne.

* Walker Street Corridor in Gurley.

The coalition has members from Athens, Fort Payne and the Singing River Trail. The trail is a recreational greenway project covering more than 200 miles across the top of Alabama that will showcase towns and cities along the route.

Repurposing the sites will transform properties that can enhance usage of the Singing River Trail.

TARCOG serves DeKalb, Jackson, Limestone, Madison and Marshall counties in North Alabama.

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