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City of Rockford awarded assistance from US EPA to redevelop southwest portion of the city

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — From Barber Colman to the UW Health Sports Factory site, the city of Rockford is well versed in cleaning up Brownfield sites.

"It's any real piece of property where the redeveloped use is hindered by known contamination or perceived environmental contamination," says Rockford Brownfield Redevelopment Specialist Rob Wilhelmi.

For example, pollutants left behind from previous developments.

"Like the old corner gas stations that are abandoned with underground storage tanks in the ground," says Wilhelmi.

In 2019 the city was awarded $300,00 Brownfield Assessment Grant that's focused on the southwest side. This technical assistance will focus on an area sounding the South Main corridor which aligns with the 2019 grant. The US EPA is sending a team of professionals to the city to help develop a plan. The strategy will serve as a platform to revitalize the residential areas parallel to brownfield and other redevelopment efforts. It will also engage area stakeholders and promote the use and growth of valuable assets, such as Klehm Arboretum, Tinker Swiss Cottage, Graham-Ginestra House, Ethnic Heritage Museum, and Rockford Park District facilities.

"This will focus on the residential areas of southwest Rockford.," says Wilhelmi. "To work hand in hand with the commercial industrial redevelopment in the area."

Wilhelmi says with redevelopment he believes a number of things in the neighborhood will improve. One of those issues he's focused on is crime. For example, one concern is with vacant buildings in the area that may be easy targets for arson. He's hopeful this investment will not only make the area safer, but get the attention of future developers.

"You should property values increase because of this. With any sort of positive redevelopment that's going to occur. It will help to eliminate blight, it will increase livability in the whole region."

Wilhelmi says the redevelopment zone the team will focus on is about a 2 mile square area. It's in the area contained between Kent Creek and Klehm Arboretum and from S. Central Avenue to the Rock River.

If you'd like more information on Rockford's Brownfields or would like to know how to share your input - click here.

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