The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has given the town of Cheraw a $300,000 brownfields grant, Cheraw Town Administrator Mike Smith told council members Tuesday evening.
“This is something we’ve been working on for a long time,” said Smith. “We have been turned down for this grant twice in previous years. This time, we asked for $400,000 and we got $300,000.”
What makes it even better, Smith said, is there are “no matching funds required with this grant.”
A “brownfield site” is real property that has been abandoned, leaving potential risks behind.
Cheraw’s grant money will allow for the expansion, redevelopment or reuse of property that may be complicated by the potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.
According to the EPA website outlining the brownfields program, there are many options with this grant. The money can be used for “brownfields assessment, cleanup, revolving loans and environmental job training.” The grant recipient may chose to “inventory, characterize, assess, and conduct planning and community involvement related to brownfield sites.”
This grant money can also be used to conduct environmental studies such as the one done for the property Ironwood Farms now owns, said Smith.
“The town paid $28,000 to have that property studied and cleared,” said Smith. “And I know they would not have purchased the property had that not been done.”
Cheraw Mayor Andy Ingram and council members said they are excited about the opportunities this grant will provide for the town and look forward to making more specific plans for improving our brownfield sites.
In other action, Cheraw resident Sarah Ann Thompson again asked council members to reconsider their decision to do away with curbside recycling. Thompson and several others approached the council about the matter last week.
Thompson said she recalled that when the town first began its curbside recycling program, there was a 46 percent participation rate.
“Yes,” Ingram agreed. “But that fell considerably.”
There are now fewer than 200 people in town who actually use their recycling bin.
“But that program is a lot like a plant, if you ignore it, and don’t water it, it will die,” said Thompson.
Thompson also brought up the problems the town faced with drop-off sites prior to the days of curbside recycling.
“People were dumping oil, trash was blown about. It was a mess,” she said. “And it’s going to be an eyesore. The curbside pickup is so much more effective.”
Ingram said people in the county have been using drop-off sites for some time now.
“Yes,” said Thompson. “But we pay town and county taxes.”
“The town’s current budget shows we spend half a million a year on garbage,” she added. “Can’t we use some of that money for recycling?”
“That’s up to the wishes of council,” said Ingram.
Council members agreed that they would reconsider the matter, but no decisions were made.
— Reach Staff Writer Karen Kissiah at 843-537-5261.