Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

EPA grant will allow Brooksville to assess potentially contaminated sites

BROOKSVILLE — What lies beneath the ground can tell a lot about a city's history. In Brooksville's case, that's been something of a mystery for years, and a concern to many looking into the city's viability as a place to live and own a business.

But a $400,000 multipurpose pilot grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency to evaluate toxic underground contaminants may unlock many of the answers that city officials have been looking for.

City Manager Jennene Norman-Vacha said the city applied for the grant in November through the EPA's Brownfields Program. The money will pay for a study of private and public properties within the city that have been identified by the Public Works Department as possibly containing contaminated soil.

Those sites include: 25 abandoned gas stations and/or former petroleum storage systems, railroad rights of way, and abandoned manufacturing and industrial processing sites, as well as city parcels formerly used to house the city's public works operations.

Norman-Vacha said the grant is significant in that it will at last provide documented evidence needed to go after additional federal and state cleanup funds. While a number of the sites are what Norman-Vacha called "the usual suspects" for petroleum and chemical pollution, many may not hold any contaminants at all.

"We may just find that some properties have a stigma attached that may or may not be true," Norman-Vacha said. "This way, we'll know for certain."

Under terms of the grant, the funds will be split equally to assess both hazardous substances and petroleum contamination.

The grants, which also were awarded to the municipalities of Casselberry, Orlando and Tampa, were officially presented Thursday at a ceremony in Tampa. Since its inception in 1995, the EPA Brownfields Program has awarded more than $18 billion in assessment and cleanup funds nationwide.

In its application, Brooksville said that dilapidated facilities and the environmental uncertainty of many properties have created a blight that has inhibited economic development efforts.

Norman-Vacha said many of the suspected properties in the city's designated community redevelopment area in south Brooksville have sat vacant primarily because potential buyers are afraid of the high cost that would be required to develop them.

"Knowing just what's down below the ground could help erase some of those questions," Norman-Vacha said.

Although the grant will not provide funding for any cleanup operations, the resulting assessments would provide detailed data needed for property owners to apply for additional federal and state funds.

Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or

EPA grant will allow Brooksville to assess potentially contaminated sites 06/07/12 [Last modified: Thursday, June 7, 2012 7:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays journal: Homer-happiness returns against Blue Jays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays are back to hitting home runs, which was the norm of the offense for much of the season before the offense went cold.

    Adeiny Hechavarria greets teammate Kevin Kiermaier after his home run during the third inning at the Trop.
  2. Jones: Stop talking and start building a new Rays stadium

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was good to see Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred at Tropicana Field on Wednesday, talking Rays baseball and the hope for a new stadium somewhere in Tampa Bay.

    Commissioner Rob Manfred is popular with the media on a visit to Tropicana Field.
  3. Ousted to political Siberia by Corcoran, Kathleen Peters sets sights on Pinellas Commission

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The perks of power in Tallahassee are a coveted chairmanship, a Capitol office in a prime location and a prominent seat on the House floor. Now Rep. Kathleen Peters has lost all three, but here's the twist: Her trip to "Siberia" might actually help her reach the next step on the Tampa Bay political …

    Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-South Pasadena, has been relegated to the back row in the State House chamber, moved to a fouth floor office and stripped of her job as chairwoman of a House subcommittee after a series of disagreements with House Speaker Richard Corcoran. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  4. What do kids need to stay away from deadly auto theft epidemic?

    Public Safety

    ST. PETERSBURG — More than a dozen black teenagers told U.S. Congressman Charlie Crist on Wednesday that children need stronger mentors and youth programs to steer clear of the auto theft epidemic plaguing Pinellas County.

    Congressman Charlie Crist (center) listens as Shenyah Ruth (right), a junior at Northeast High School, talks during Wednesday's youth roundtable meeting with community leaders and kids. They met to discuss the ongoing car theft epidemic among Pinellas youth and how law enforcement, elected officials, and community organizations can work together to put an end to this dangerous trend. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  5. Manhattan Casino choice causes political headache for Kriseman


    ST. PETERSBURG — Days before the mayoral primary, Mayor Rick Kriseman's decision to let a Floribbean restaurant open in Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino has caused political angst within the voting bloc he can least afford to lose: the black community.

    Last week Mayor Rick Kriseman chose a Floribbean restaurant concept to fill Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino. But that decision, made days before next week's mayoral primary, has turned into a political headache for the mayor. Many residents want to see the building's next tenant better reflect its cultural significance in the black community. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]