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EPA funding to revitalize sites in North Alabama

TARCOG revives sites in Athens, Fort Payne, and Gurley, funded by EPA, which promotes community and addresses environmental concerns.

Downtown Athens, Alabama Carol M. Highsmith/Library of Congress
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The Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments has secured a $1.5 million Federal Brownfield Assessment Grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to address environmental concerns and promote community in areas across Alabama. 

Over the next four years, TARCOG and its partners, including the cities of Athens, Gurley and Fort Payne, will utilize the funding to inventory, assess and develop revitalization plans for various sites.

In Athens, the focus is the Easy Street Art Trail in downtown Athens, which aims to honor history, promote the arts and enhance walkability. A trail location is proposed to run along the railroad tracks and the Alabama Veterans Museum.

The trail brings long-term plans including paying homage to the historical significance of Easy Street while reviving the downtown area.

Fort Payne plans to repurpose vacant industrial and warehouse buildings in the downtown area, spanning from Second Street North to Fourth Street North. The rebuilding efforts aim to incorporate shops, restaurants, entertainment venues and stages for community events, creating economic growth and community in the region.

Gurley is refocusing on repurposing a vacant lot and convenience store into an educational or recreational space that aligns with the goals of the Singing River Trail project. Emphasizing the importance of repurposing spaces to enhance community connections and recreational opportunities is important to TARCOG’s plans.

The initiatives reflect addressing environmental challenges, promoting economic development and enhancing the quality of life for residents across northern Alabama. 

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The EPA’s Brownfields Program provides monetary assistance to support states, communities and stakeholders from every level in preventing, assessing, safely cleaning up and sustainably reusing brownfield sites. 

Through collaboration and planning, TARCOG and its partners plan to bring enlightening changes in Athens, Fort Payne, Gurley and beyond, setting the stage for a better future for the region.

Mary Claire is a reporting intern.

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