EPA grant money for brownfield site assessments

brownfield authorityThe EPA has given the Marquette County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority $400,000 in grant money. The funding will pay for environmental reviews of blighted, contaminated properties that are functionally obsolete. As ABC 10 senior reporter Mike Hoey explains, the Brownfield Authority wants residents to know more about what it does and what results the grant money can help obtain.

Since it formed in August of 2010, the Marquette County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority has completed work on three parcels: two homes on Spring Street in Marquette, the former Jim’s Union 76 gas station in Ishpeming and the former site of the West Ishpeming School in Ishpeming Township.

“The City of Marquette Brownfield Authority has had several noteworthy projects, including the Liberty Way project and Founders Landing, so those are two really good examples of brownfield redevelopment,” county Brownfield Authority member Anne Giroux said.

A sold–out seminar is taking place Thursday at Northern Michigan University to teach residents about the site assessment grants. “We’re reaching out to developers, real estate professionals, financers, bankers, folks like that, municipalities, just so everybody’s on the same page as far as what’s available,” Giroux said.

A Habitat for Humanity duplex now stands in Marquette where the Spring Street houses once were. A Northern Michigan Bank and Trust branch now occupies the former gas station property. The former school site has come a long way, too. Two homes have been built there. A third is under construction, and there’s still enough space for several more.

The seminar also includes refreshers on the property tax code and how a property’s value, and tax assessment, can change after it changes hands. “With the (city) Brownfield Authority, I would have the position that I’d place the value on the property. I would have the starting base value, and then any new construction is what would be considered captured value,” Marquette City Assessor Sue Bovan said. “The taxable value (of a property) does become uncapped the year after a transfer of ownership, and in some instances, that tax liability can be substantial, sometimes two to three times what the prior owner had been paying.”

The county Brownfield Authority is trying to compile an inventory of brownfield sites, and it’s doing preliminary work on project applications it’s received for downtown Ishpeming.