Pinellas County was awarded a $600,000 grant to help clean up three parcels in the Dansville neighborhood that were used as illegal landfills in the 1960s and '70s.
The grants, announced last week by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, are part of the agency's Brownfield cleanup program.
Each of the three parcels received $200,000, for a total of $600,000.
Teri Hasbrouck, Pinellas County's Brownfield program manager, said the fund is used to revitalize vacant and underutilized property to improve the quality of life and economic vitality of a community.
"We are really excited about getting this grant," Hasbrouck said. "It's great to get this kind of funding to improve that community."
Brownfield sites are typically abandoned, idle or underused industrial and commercial properties where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by environmental contamination. Brownfield grants are used to jump-start development on these properties.
Only seven communities out of 108 received the maximum award of $600,000 in cleanup grants. In all, 209 applicants were selected to receive 314 Brownfield grants.
Ravaged by a tornado in 1992, the Dansville area has been targeted by the county for major revitalization. Nearly $4-million has been spent in the area since 1993, said Randi Pappas, Pinellas County's community planning specialist for the Dansville Redevelopment Area.
A new infrastructure was created, with new streets, underground utilities and a 6-acre retention pond in the center of the neighborhood.
Pappas said the county, which owns the three parcels, is excited about the award.
"The county is not allowed to convey the land to anyone if we know there's contamination on it," she said. "It would just sit there, and we really want to build new homes."
When the county purchased the three parcels, which are off 132nd Avenue and Wilcox Road, they didn't know that buried beneath the topsoil were layers of old garbage, including abandoned washers, dryers and other big appliances.
The county will use the federal funding to remove the trash and fill the parcels with clean soil.
Work is scheduled to begin in December and should take about three months to complete.
Dansville is part of the greater Ridgecrest Community, which consists of 11 predominately black subdivisions. Tasker Beal, a community activist, is pleased with the cleanup effort.
"It's been holding up a couple of affordable housing projects, so this is good," Beal said. "It's also good for the overall maintenance and general appearance of the community."
Demorris A. Lee can be reached at 445-4174 or firstname.lastname@example.org.