News23ABC In-Depth


Bakersfield receives $500,000 grant to help improve downtown

Posted: 4:19 PM, May 12, 2022
Updated: 2022-05-12 19:19:25-04
Downtown Bakersfield (FILE)
Downtown Bakersfield (FILE)

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Downtown is slowly becoming a place not just to work but to live. Many affordable and market housing units are popping up. And on Thursday a $500,000 grant to further invest in downtown’s core was announced.

This is not the first time the City of Bakersfield has received funds from the Brownfields Assessment Grants not only through their Community-wide Assessment Grant, which is what they’re getting awarded this round but the Workforce Development Program as well.

Brownfields Assessment Grants are provided by the Environmental Protection Agency. It provides money for communities to clean up and develop "brownfield sites," which are those areas that may suffer from the presence of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants.

Assessment Grants provide funding for a grant recipient to inventory, characterize, assess, conduct a range of planning activities, develop site-specific cleanup plans, and conduct community involvement related to brownfield sites.

A brownfield is a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. It is estimated that there are more than 450,000 brownfields in the U.S.

- Environmental Protection Agency

Bakersfield entered a national competition for that $500,000 grant.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency the city had to prove not only its need but its ability to use those funds toward helping historically disadvantaged communities.

“We look at different properties, both publicly and privately owned throughout the city where there’s cooperative owners and interested owners, to identify brownfields," explained Nova Blazej, a senior project manager with the EPA’s brownfields program. "And if they do find that there’s contamination, we help plan for the cleanup, and we also help plan for their reuse.”

Blazej adds the bipartisan infrastructure law has made those funds possible. It will award the brownfields program $1.5 billion over the next five years.

The funds Bakersfield was awarded will become available at the beginning of October 2022.

This is one of the many efforts underway to invest and grow downtown’s urban core. Tonight at 6 p.m. 23ABC will talk with Ward 2’s city councilmember about those other initiatives, plans, and discussions.