Brownfields are sites where there is the potential or confirmed existence of soil contamination due to historic use. For example, consider a former gasoline station where underground storage tanks may have leaked. If you are not familiar with this issue, or you are only vaguely aware of brownfields, you are not alone. I am the only candidate who has addressed this concern, and the only one who has attended meetings about this important issue.
This is a very important problem facing many locations around Lewisville and it cannot be ignored. There are over 55,000 underground storage tanks in Texas, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) estimates half are leaking. The average cleanup cost for one of these tanks is $85,000.
Potential brownfield sites in Lewisville include new and used car lots, mechanical and body repair, paint shops, and dry cleaners. Auto, RV, and boat storage can result in ground contamination. So can a car wash, asbestos in construction, or a former gun range. Industrial process plants, factories, and railroad lines all have the potential to create brownfields.
The largest concentration of these sites is located in Old Town, especially along Main and Mill Street (see right). But there are many sites along I35E, SH121, Railroad Street, and near the lake. To a large degree, we find them where they we expect them; the age of properties or the types of businesses are often indicative of future sites.
These properties are a blight on older neighborhoods. Their remediation is essential if we plan to redevelop these properties. We worry about code enforcement to clean up declining areas, but this is just as essential. That is why I place so much importance on it.
Identifying these sites and getting the word out about investigation, including soil analysis and clean-up, has proven difficult. Landowners often distrust remedial efforts. They fear they will either be held legally responsible, will have to pay for clean-up, or that will be forced to deal with a cloud on the land title, making it impossible to sell. In fact, the EPA has made clean up funds available for brownfields, but that grant will eventually expire later this year. Landowners are not punished or encumbered if they invite efforts for remediation, but there is no time to waste.
We must revitalize hundreds of older properties as we find ourselves running out of developable land. Who wants to see businesses sell their locations at a loss because they fear disclosure? Who wants to see unused land because the owner cannot find a buyer?
I strongly support this clean-up effort. I previously served on the Brownfields Advisory Committee in Lewisville, where we looked at sites and look at ways to affect clean-up in the area. Even after my election to City Council, I have continued to attend meetings and stay informed on this subject. I am the only candidate active in this area, and I take the problem very seriously. I have spent a large amount time researching this issue, thanks to the city staff’s assistance.
Only one candidate spends time with city staff, learns where all such properties exist, attends relevant meetings, reads briefings on this issue, and understands the difficulties and advantages of moving this effort forward.
I am that one candidate.