After applying for the grant in January, the nonprofit was one of only two sites in Georgia that received the Brownfields 2014 Cleanup grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.
“The monies will go toward cleaning up petroleum on the site,” said the nonprofit’s director, Michele Ritan.
Funds will also be used to provide outreach to the community through presentations at neighborhood schools, community meetings and a project brochure.
A brownfield site is a property where the expansion, redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant, according to the agency’s website.
Ritan said after the nonprofit received the title to the property in 2012, she and other members began to learn about the long history of various violations on the site and evidence of contamination of the soil and ground water.
“After getting a recommendation to call EPA, I talked to a couple of folks on the brownfield staff because of the petroleum pollution on the site,” she said.
“They encouraged us to apply for a targeted brownfield assessment where they spent about $100,000 on our behalf to remove the old convenient store and much of the overgrowth,” she said.
Ritan said the next step for the nonprofit was to apply for the grant which, was a community-involved project in itself.
“During the application process, people in the area started writing letters expressing support, including members from local schools, churches and county commissioners,” she said. “There’s been a lot of interest because thousands of people drive by this location every day and it’s been a real eyesore and environmental hazard for quite some time.”
Once the site is cleaned, the next step will be to convert it to an eco-friendly greenspace and trailhead for a bicycle path that will lead to the Avondale MARTA station.
“We’ve established a collaboration with the PATH foundation, which is a leader in building bicycle and walking paths in cities, and we have almost all the funding in place to build the trailhead for a trail, which will be completely off the road,” Ritan said.
The nonprofit also plans to restore native plants to the area and invite surrounding schools to be involved for environmental education purposes.
To learn more about the nonprofit, visit www.facebook.com/EastDecaturGreenway.