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EPA Gives Grant to USF, University Area Community

University Area Community Center Complex | Tampa | USF

The grant will help stakeholders meet environmental and redevelopment challenges in the University Area Community.

TAMPA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced a $200,000 award to the University of South Florida to work with the University Area Community Development Corp. and other organizations to create a strategic plan for dealing with environmental pollution and redevelopment challenges in the University Area Community.

The University Area CDC, USF and other stakeholders will collaborate to develop an areawide plan and implementation strategy for the UAC, an under-served residential and commercial community containing several brownfields or potential brownfields. The catalyst site for this project is Harvest Hope Park, an oasis in the making, which eventually will include a playground, hiking fields, tilapia fish farm and learning kitchen. Located on 20th street, north of Fletcher, Harvest Hope Park already includes a productive community garden, supplying fresh produce to area residents.

“The timing of this grant could not be more perfect as we focus our efforts on the redevelopment of the University Area Community, just as we go under construction for the community’s seven acre Harvest Hope Park,” said Sarah Combs, University Area CDC executive director and CEO. “A large focus of this grant is to engage and hire community residents to participate and drive the planning process, which is how community development should be done.”

Last fall, the University Area CDC received a $423,000 community development block grant from Hillsborough County and raised an additional $90,000 at its annual gala, to be used for the creation of the park.

Christian Wells, USF professor of Anthropology and director of the Center for Brownfields Research, said, “The project will build on existing planning activities that the community has already developed for housing rehabilitation, new business creation, increased access to health services, and improved opportunities for recreation. The project will focus on brownfields that are a major impediment to these redevelopment considerations and will include community engagement, local capacity building, an economic market analysis, and evaluation of existing planning documents along with social, healtUniversity Area CDC | Tampa | USFh, and environmental data to determine the extent to which contamination will impact revitalization efforts.”

The project will begin in March 2017 and last about two years. Much of the funding will be used to hire area residents to help with community planning efforts. It is hoped that once a successful development plan has been established, the group will be able to attract significant resources to implement the plan.

Other key partners include the Florida Brownfields Association, Mort Elementary School, Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County, Florida Department of Health-Hillsborough County, Hillsborough County Economic Development, Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission, Cardno, Vistra, and BGW Associates.

Tampa is one of 19 communities nationally to receive grants to assist with planning for cleanup and reuse of brownfield sites as part of the brownfields Area-Wide Planning (AWP) program; a total of $3.8 million will be distributed.

“The Area-Wide Planning grant program is an innovation initiated by the Obama Administration to empower communities to transform economically and environmentally distressed areas, including communities impacted by manufacturing plant closures, into vibrant future destinations for business, jobs, housing and recreation,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management. “These grants provide the opportunity for communities to determine for themselves revitalization plans that best meet their vision and needs based on a rigorous analysis of market and infrastructure in a manner that benefits and does not displace long-term residents.”

The University Area CDC offers support for thousands of Tampa residents through youth programs, adult education and resource assistance. Its primary mission is the redevelopment and sustainability of the at-risk areas surrounding USF’s Tampa campus.

For information about UACDC,go to or call (813) 558-5212.

Photos of the University Area Community Complex and LOGO courtesy of University Area Community Development Corp.

USF | University Area Community | Harvest Hope Park | Brownfield | TB Reporter

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