Robbins held a community meeting on Oct. 24 at Robbins First Baptist Church regarding the town’s recent Brownfield grant award.
Joe Morici, a contractor with Cardno, congratulated Robbins on being awarded two Brownfield clean up grants totaling $400,000. Robbins was a previous recipient of a grant that enabled the town to evaluate any contaminates located on the previous Millikan textile mill site and develop a plan for rehabilitation.
Cleanup grants provide funding to carry out cleanup activities at specific Brownfield sites owned by government entities or nonprofits. An applicant can apply for up to $200,000 per Brownfield site and can submit up to three site-specific cleanup proposals.
Robbins strategically divided the mill site into a northern and southern parcel which allowed them to maximize the amount of money the town received from the grant program.
Thirty-one percent of applicants applying for a Brownfield Assessment grant were awarded grants this year.
Robbins Mayor Lonnie English thanked Morici, Gerard Ridzon with Community Spaces LLC, Clare Ruggles with Northern Moore Family Resource Center, town commissioners, and town staff for working on this project.
“We have made it a priority to get this mill cleaned up,” English said. He promised that one day soon residents will see grass growing on the site, along with other development, instead of the rubble currently located on the site.
English also explained that Robbins’ success in the Brownfields program was no accident. The town had to take strategic steps to obtain the property to ensure that the site would be cleaned up. The value of the land in relation to the cost of clean-up made it unlikely that the mill site would have been rehabilitated had it stayed in private hands.
The rehab process is lengthy and while it is expected that the site will not be completely cleaned-up for a number of years, residents can expect to see improvements starting in January. Town staff will develop a bid package in November and start selecting contractors in December. There is a strong preference for contractors to use local resources as much as possible. Contractors must have specialized training to work on such sites. The town will be required to prepare a Quality Assurance Protection Plan and Community Engagement Plan.
Ruggles gave an update on some of the projects already underway with the mill site. Habitat for Humanity has begun building homes on a parcel that was once used as a parking lot for the mill. Ruggles encouraged members of the community to participate in the Habitat builds. Attendees of the meeting were impressed with the investment that Habitat for Humanity has made in Robbins.
Town Manager David Lambert gave general updates about the town.
“It is an exciting time to live in Robbins,” Lambert said. Lambert explained that instead of focusing on the challenges and successes of the past, the Board is working on creating a bright future for Robbins. Lambert updated the crowd about community rebranding efforts, downtown revitalization projects and the town’s investment in infrastructure improvements.
Lambert explained that the clean-up activities and other community projects are part of an overall strategy of community and economic development.
“I believe that the community is beginning to catch the vision of what Robbins can be. The community is beginning to believe that change is possible,” Lambert said.