Press Release: EPA awards $300,000 for brownfield redevelopment

Ottawa Update


For Immediate Release

Media contact: Becky Huttenga | | 616.738.4852

Ottawa County receives $300,000 grant for brownfield redevelopment assistance

West Olive, MI — In a win for local economic revitalization, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) on May 6 awarded Ottawa County $300,000 for environmental site assessment and cleanup planning for brownfield properties. This grant is part of $65 million worth of brownfield site assessment, revolving loan fund, and cleanup grants awarded to 155 communities by the USEPA.

This year’s grant competition was as fierce as ever — approximately 435 communities submitted applications to the USEPA. Ottawa County last received a grant from this same pool of USEPA funds in 2013. With a $400,000 award, the County was able to assist 34 different projects and leverage approximately $35.6 million worth of investment into brownfield properties.

With thriving tourism, agriculture, and manufacturing industries, Ottawa County is a powerhouse of commerce. We have a strong industrial history to thank for this burgeoning economy. But that same industrial history also left behind contaminated or underutilized properties in need of revitalization. Even today, there are tool and die shops, dry cleaning businesses, and gas stations, to name a few, that may have contamination. Contaminated, underutilized, or blighted properties like these all qualify as “brownfields”, and that means developers may be saddled with extra costs if they want to site their project on brownfield property. 

The USEPA grant funding can be used to offset extra costs to determine what kind of contamination might be present on sites like these and what would be required to clean it up. This would encourage developers to take a second look at potential brownfield properties without having to open their own wallets to cover those costs. While the purpose of environmental site assessments is to identify the extent of contamination and develop a due care or cleanup plan, oftentimes — perhaps as much at 33%, according to the USEPA — the initial environmental site assessment on a suspected property reveals no environmental concerns. In these cases, the project can proceed as planned. Having that knowledge about a property’s environmental situation is a very effective marketing tool.  While Ottawa County is fortunate not to have the pervasive issues with blight and contamination that many larger municipalities have, the County believes in taking a proactive and aggressive approach to investigating suspected brownfield properties. 

The benefits of redeveloping of brownfield properties are many, including:

  • Returning problematic properties to the tax rolls
  • Attracting developers to brownfields, creating jobs and investment
  • Increasing the value of nearby properties
  • Reducing sprawl by reusing properties with existing infrastructure
  • Cleaning up environmental contamination

The County’s locally driven brownfields program also seeks projects that could provide benefits that address locally important issues, such as the affordable housing deficit, dwindling groundwater resources, or inclusivity. “Ottawa County believes strongly in stewardship not only of our abundant natural resources, but also of taxpayer dollars,” states Al Vanderberg, County Administrator and Chair of the Ottawa County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. “With this award from the USEPA for brownfield site assessment, we will be able to leverage private investment and other incentives to cleanup brownfield sites and get them back into productive use.”

Ottawa County boasts eight local and one countywide Brownfield Redevelopment Authority that can provide access to all of the financial tools available for brownfield redevelopment. The Ottawa County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (OCBRA) works cooperatively with all cities, villages, and townships in the County. For more information about the brownfield redevelopment or this USEPA grant, contact the OCBRA at 616.738.4852,, or by visiting More information on how to access these grant funds will be made available this fall once the grant agreement between the County and the USEPA is in place.


Pictured above: In the left foreground is the mothballed diesel generator plant formerly used by the Grand Haven Board of Light and Power; in the background, across the Grand River, is the current coal fired generation plant that is scheduled for decommissioning in 2020. Both properties are targeted for brownfield redevelopment.

Note: the photographer stands behind the diesel plant, where two large storage tanks were removed using USEPA site assessment funding awarded in 2013. This site is now a much-used skate park.