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State brownfield program in jeopardy due to lack of funding

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Uptown Bay City - http://uptownbaycity.com
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An 'after' photo of a redevelopment project in Bay City.

 

Officials with a state program that redevelops contaminated areas around Michigan says their funding has run out. And they’re not sure where - or if - they’ll get more.

 

The brownfield program through the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality helps communities redevelop areas that are confirmed or believed to be contaminated.

 

The DEQ said the last time the program received funding was in 1998.

 

That money has run out and so far the state legislature hasn’t earmarked new funding for the brownfield program in the coming fiscal year.

 

Susan Wenzlick is with the Brownfield Redevelopment Program.

 

“The projects that we committed money to are still good. I mean we haven’t had to un-fund anything. The projects that we committed to are still going on, we have a number of projects that we would like to do that we just can’t do because we don’t have money.”

 

Wenzlick said the brownfield staff's jobs are safe for now.

 

“Right now we have staff that are paid out of a different source of fund, and we’re doing a lot of outreach. Even though we don't have grant money or loan money or cleanup money, our staff are still working with communities to figure out other ways to redevelop the brownfield sites.”

 

Hundreds of projects around the state that help create jobs and improve economic development in the community.

 

The most recent finished project was in Bay City, which created over 400 jobs.

 

Wenzlick said program staff have been creating promotional videos of successful projects to showcase the work they’ve done.

 

“Especially with something like the videos, they can see the difference it makes. I can sit here and explain it to you, well we do the cleanup and there's economic benefits and 400 jobs, and the environment is better off and the community is better off, but when you can see something like the Bay City video, or the Traverse City video it really makes it like oh wow, I can see the improvement, I can see the difference.”