U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler plans to visit the site of a former mold-ridden newspaper building in Pottstown on Wednesday to announce $6.9 million in new funding for brownfields projects across the country.
Wheeler said on Tuesday that he planned to stop at the Pottstown Mercury building for a news briefing as an example of communities working with the EPA to clean up and reuse polluted sites.
“The heart of this and what we are trying to do across the agency … is working with communities to improve the environment where people live,” Wheeler said.
The three-story building was considered a health hazard and in need of a new roof. Employees had noted that a pungent mildew smell on the third floor had spread to the second-floor newsroom.
Located in the center of Pottstown, the building has already been remediated with money from the Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund. Montgomery County will receive an additional $300,000 in supplemental funding toward that project.
Wheeler said plans call for the newspaper site to be redeveloped into a boutique hotel that will create jobs and produce tax revenue while supporting the downtown area.
Montgomery County is also receiving $300,000 for other redevelopment projects, including three locations in Pottstown and one in Norristown, which include soil cleanup, storage tank remediation, and site investigation.
The Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development will also receive $300,000 for three projects, including an early childhood education center at Bartram’s Garden, and cleanups of a former asphalt plant in University City and a former rail-yard site on Jefferson Street.
And the Camden Redevelopment Agency will receive $300,000, but the EPA has not yet specified the project.
As of February, under the EPA Brownfields Program, 31,516 properties have been assessed and 92,047 acres of idle land have been made ready for productive use. In addition, communities across the country have been able to use Brownfields grants to attract 160,306 jobs and more than $31 billion of public and private funding.
Wheeler is also scheduled Wednesday for a news briefing on Superfund use at the Strasburg Landfill site in Newlin Township, Chester County.