BISBEE — Cochise County will have town hall meetings this week in Bisbee and Douglas to talk about eliminating a few brownfield sites which are more liabilities than assets.
Brownfield sites are vacant properties in need of remediation of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant, such as former gas stations and dry cleaners, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Illegal dump sites, landfills, even a methamphetamine lab could be considered brownfield sites, as well as buildings that have asbestos or lead paint in them. They include places where hazardous materials, including fertilizers, were stored or spilled.
While mold is not typically included in the contaminant list, if it is a result of asbestos that can hold water, it could be included.
They are properties, which if properly assessed for the extent of contamination, that could be revitalized for economic development or for open spaces, parks and green spaces. Properties are eligible for inclusion if the contaminations were not caused by the present owners.
The process is voluntary and private property cannot be included unless the property owner agrees to be a part of the assessment.
“Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties protects the environment, reduces blight, and takes development pressures off greenspaces and working lands,” states the EPA website.
There is an estimated 2,600 such properties in the county, as was reported previously in the Herald/Review. Every city in the county has a brownfield site.
By having assessment reports of such properties ready, developers may be willing to proceed with construction as it is an expense they would not have to absorb. It is estimated there could be a return of $18 for every dollar spent on remediation and the value of neighboring properties rises.
The county was awarded $600,000 from the EPA to cover the cost of identifying brownfield sites and assessing the projects’ scopes.
The meeting in Douglas will be held Wednesday, Sept. 15, at 5 p.m. at the Douglas Visitors Center. The Bisbee meeting is Thursday, Sept. 16, at 5 p.m. at the Board of Supervisors hearing room in the Melody Lane county complex.
A third meeting in Sierra Vista is scheduled for 5 p.m. at City Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 22.