Regional Port Authority receives $700,000 grant dedicated to cleaning up brownfields

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HANNIBAL, Mo. – Two vacant buildings on Broadway in Hannibal will soon receive some attention.

A $700,00 grant was awarded to the Marion-Ralls Port Authority, also known as Hannibal Port Authority or Regional Port Authority, by the Missouri Environmental Protection Act (EPA) Region 7 on Monday afternoon at the Homebank Community Room in Hannibal.

“The Marion-Ralls Regional Port Authority is extremely pleased to be selected for an EPA Brownfields Assessment Coalition Grant,” Corey Mehaffy, representative of the port authority. “These funds will allow the Port to build on its brownfields program, providing the necessary environmental assessments and planning work needed for resilient redevelopment for the region.”

A brownfield is a property, which could be land or a building, where improvement, redevelopment, or reuse is hindered by the presence, or potential presence, of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. 

The grant will target brownfields in Hannibal, New London, and Palmyra, funding 23 Phase I environmental inspections and five Phase II inspections. Grant funds also will be used to prepare four cleanup plans, one reuse plan for each priority site, and to conduct community engagement activities. 

(Learn more about brownfields at the EPA website: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields

The first sites selected for inspection will be MCM Savings Bank at 228 Broadway in Hannibal, the Old Federal Building at 609 Broadway, the former Cerf Bag Company at 409 South College St. in New London, and the former location of Hutch’s Dinner Bell and Phillips 66 Station, which has been torn down and now is a vacant parking lot at 709 N. Main in Palmyra. All the buildings are vacant.

Meg McCollister, administrator at EPA Region 7, presented the $700,000 ceremonial check to the port authority as a Brownfields Assessment Coalition Grant selectee. 

McCollister explained the grant is part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure, of the Biden Administration’s Investing in America Agenda which dedicates over $450 billion in private-sector manufacturing and clean-energy investments in the United States.

Through this funding, 1.5 billion dollars will be set aside for Brownfields across the United States. McCollister reported an estimated 450,000 brownfields around the country. 

“The grant is the largest investment ever made in brownfield infrastructure,” McCollister said.

McCollister said cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties increases local tax bases, facilitates job growth, utilizes existing infrastructure, takes development pressures off of undeveloped, open land, and both improves and protects the environment.

Communities all over the US have received more than $34 billion dollars in clean up and redevelopment grants, which has helped to create more than 175,000 jobs. Redeveloping brownfield sites even have a positive impact on nearby residential properties which can see a 15 percent increase in property value.

“Coalition grants, such as these, are so important to our communities. Through working together, smaller communities may qualify for EPA grants together, making a large-scale impact through planning activities and developing site-specific cleanup plans, all while keeping the community as a whole engaged in the process. 

“Today’s check presentation really proves that environmental protection and economic development are not mutually exclusive. The two do go hand-in-hand,” McCollister said.

McCollister was joined on stage by Marion-Ralls Regional Port Authority Chairman Brian W. Caldwell, Missouri Brownfield Outreach Jacob  Corey Mehaffy. Marion and Ralls county commissioners; and Marion-Ralls Regional Port Authority board members. 

Additional coalition members include Marion County, Ralls County, and the North East Community Action Corporation, a local community-based nonprofit organization.

From left, Corey Mehaffy of Marion-Ralls Port Authority, Marion County, Brian Caldwell, Port Authority Chairman and Meg McCollister from the EPA Region 7.

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