Macon-Bibb awarded $400k to test areas for hazardous materials

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The federal government is giving Macon-Bibb County $400,000. The Environmental Protection Agency chose the county as one of 147 communities nationwide to receive grant money to address brownfield sites.

“This area has often been over looked or unknown or forgotten,” Garry Williams, the general manager of Sanco Industries in Macon, said.

The business is like any other with good days and bad. Williams says it’s time more development come to his 7th Street address.

“There has been so much happening downtown in the downtown proper right next to us. I think it’s time for that to spread its influence into our area,” Williams said.

Macon-Bibb County leaders are well aware. That’s why the Middle Georgia Regional Commission, along with help from the Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiative, applied for a grant to attract more business on behalf of the county.

“When you bring business then it generates more business,” Clay Murphey, the grant administrator for Macon-Bibb, said.

The EPA is investing more than $54 million dollars nationwide to address brownfield sites in growing communities.

“Brownfield being a site that’s contaminated with hazardous material: lead, asbestos, or petroleum bi-products,” Murphey said.

Several locations on Second and Seventh streets that used to be home to gas stations or industrial buildings are “hot zones” for those materials preventing any sort of redevelopment.

“Typically these are in blighted areas because people don’t want to have to pay to clean them up. They don’t have the funds to clean them up,” Murphey said.

So the county is looking at ways it can help.

The first step, using the grant money to figure out what hazardous materials are where and how much.

“This allows us to go in and take a site that’s blighted, underdeveloped…clean it up and make it prime for redevelopment,” Murphey said.

Williams is ready for the change.

“It’ll help people to not only know where we are, but our neighbors and other businesses in the area could benefit from it and hopefully encourage more business to some of these brownfield areas that ultimately become greenfield areas,” Williams said.

County leaders are planning to meet with community groups and neighborhood associations to pinpoint which areas residents have the most concern. After that, the county is bringing in contractors to assess the land and give the results to the EPA all in the next year and a half.

Categories: Bibb County, Local News

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