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Hinesville discusses "brownfield" cleanup
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On Thursday, Donita Gaulden of Hinesville’s community development department welcomed several guests to an open house about its brownfields projects.
Guests learned how grants from the Environmental Protection Agency can be accessed and used to remediate “brownfields,” commercial or industrial sites that have been abandoned or are idle and whose potential contamination is hindering future development.
Hinesville applied for and received an EPA assessment grant and two EPA brownfield cleanup grants to remediate two sites on Memorial Drive. The assessment grant was awarded in 2005 in the amount of $200,000. The 2007 cleanup grant for the first site was also for $200,000, and the 2008 cleanup grant for the second site was $150,000.
The first, at 116 Memorial Drive, was once the site of a muffler shop. Site assessments determined the presence of some contaminants and after remediation efforts by project partner AECOM, an environmental engineering firm, the city was able to get clean closure with no further action, according to senior project manager Ken Bechely.
For engineering firms like AECOM and entities like the city of Hinesville, the success of such a project also depends on the understanding of the surrounding community.  In addition to developing a Web site,, and providing fact sheets in both English and Spanish, AECOM approached this goal by enacting a community involvement plan that engaged local students in learning how human activity affects the environment and encouraged them to take an active role in planning future revitalization efforts.
“We chose to concentrate on the educational side, dealing with the kids. If you can get kids involved, the parents can usually be brought along,” Bechely said. “This outreach strategy was to identify areas where benefits for the community, school and individuals overlap.”
The approach to public participation will be different for the city’s brownfield remediation at 123 Memorial, the site of a former fuel station and auto care center. Work for that site is overseen by Arrowood Environmental.
Larry Miles with Arrowood said they are developing a Web site that explains the project for community outreach purposes, and that he also expects that remediation project to be completed within the timeline set forth in the EPA grant requirements.
Rev. Vernell Cutter attended the open house on behalf of Harambee House, Inc., a Savannah-based work education and job training program  that focuses on teaching environmental mediation job skills. The program aligns with community brownfields efforts because the group’s program provides skilled workers for those jobs.
In each seven-week study skills program, small groups of men and women are trained for certification in areas of basic construction, HazMat, lead abatement, asbestos removal and OSHA operations. The program is funded by the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences as part of a collaboration with Clark Atlanta University and Dillard University.
“On June 28 we are starting a distance learning program, and the residents here [in Hinesville] are able to apply,” Cutter said.
Representatives of the EPA were on hand throughout the open house to share how grants like the EPA cleanup grant and EPA assessment grants can be awarded to groups looking to remediate brownfield sites. Details about the program, as well as grant requirements and the application process can be found at
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