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Texas Railroad Commission Offers Redevelopment Grants

The Outlets on Corpus Christi Bay sit on what was once an oil and gas field, which qualified it as a brownfield site: a previously developed property that can be redeveloped once it is cleaned up. The Brownfields Response Program awarded $26,000 for the site cleanup that made the outlet mall possible. Courtesy photos

The Outlets on Corpus Christi Bay in Robstown sit on 30 acres of what was once a brownfield site, one of many in Texas that has received or is eligible for a Texas Railroad Commission development grant. Brownfields Response Program grants offer cleanup money for brownfield sites: previously develop land with a potential for redevelopment.

The Outlets, which were built on what was once an oil field, received $26,000 in grant money to help with assessment and cleanup prior to development.

The funding comes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 128A grant fund, said Leslie Bruce, head of the Brownfields Response Program for the railroad commission.

“One great thing about this Robstown story is that, before Nueces County realized funding was available, they found soil contamination and approved $46,000 in taxpayer money to clean it up,” Bruce said. “Then, they found out about our program.”

The railroad commission had an engineering firm assess the site and come up with a plan to clean it for $26,000.

“At no cost to the county,” Nye continued. “The county saved all that $46,000 and put it aside to use on something else.”

According to the county, the Outlets of Corpus Christi Bay created about 1,000 jobs in the Coastal Bend area.

“It was a great success for the area,” Bruce said. “A good highlight for how the brownfield program can step in and help.”

Another brownfield site that benefited from the EPA grant program, which is handled in Texas by the railroad commission, is Frank Gray Memorial Park in Gorman. Also a former oil and gas site, the acreage is now a park with a lake where people go to fish for bass.

Government entities with potential brownfield sites that could become economically viable again with a cleanup can call 512-463-6755 or email, Bruce said.

“I always suggest that the best thing to do is to call us and talk to us before you submit the application,” she continued. “Then, put it in, and I’ll make sure we get it processed quickly.”

To qualify, applicants must be a local government, economic group, nonprofit, school, or tribe. Some private landowners also qualify with the backing of the local community.

“Anyone who is really interested could also sign up to receive our quarterly bulletin,” Bruce said. “You’ll see our success stories and get an idea of how much funding is available.”

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