The City of Atlanta has been awarded $2 million from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that will be used to clean up the Chattahoochee Brick Company site.
In 2022, the city acquired the land to develop park space, greenspace, and watershed land. The acquisition allowed the development process to begin for the city’s first-ever park with direct access to the Chattahoochee River.
The Biden-Harris Administration recently announced that more than $315 million will be awarded for cleanup and technical assistance at polluted brownfield sites across the country.
Atlanta is one of four communities across Georgia to receive this grant. According to the EPA, there are currently more than 450,000 brownfields across the nation, and these areas commonly experience declining property values, reduced social services, and other risks to residents’ quality of life.
The EPS said the Chattahoochee Brick site is currently littered with battery carcasses, demolition debris, defective bricks, and waste generated from the brick-making process from 1870 to 2010 — contaminating the area with heavy metals, petroleum products, and other harmful pollutants that may cause health risks.
“I’m excited that the EPA has awarded a $2 million Brownfields Cleanup Grant to the City of Atlanta in order to remediate the historically, ecologically, and culturally important Chattahoochee Brick site,” said City Councilmember Dustin Hillis said. “This will help our city continue its process as we engage the surrounding community and other partners to transform this 75 acres along the Chattahoochee River to become a memorial park and greenspace.”
U.S. Senators Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock and Congresswoman Nikema Williams were instrumental in delivering the funding for the Chattahoochee Brick site.
“For too long, Whittier Mill Village residents have been unable to enjoy the full potential of their neighborhood because of the mess left behind by the Chattahoochee Brick Site,” Williams said in a press release. “After decades of work to remediate the site, the work still isn’t done. With this $2,000,000 grant from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we can partner with the community to find the best way to finish the job.”
“Reclaiming this land has been a group project from the beginning, thanks to partners like The Conservation Fund, The Kendeda Fund and the countless members of the community who refused to give up on memorializing a painful but important chapter in our history. Atlanta can always count on Senator Ossoff, Senator Warnock and Congresswoman Williams, and we appreciate their leadership and diligence in delivering these funds to restore the land with a painful past that will become Atlanta’s first park with direct access to the Chattahoochee River,” Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said in a statement.
From the late 1870s to the early 1900s, the Chattahoochee Brick Company was a brickworks business owned by former Atlanta mayor, James W. English. The company used convict lease labor to make the bricks used in building Atlanta houses and buildings. Black men accused of petty crimes were the majority of the forced to labor at the factory. They worked in inhumane and sometimes deadly working conditions like slaves did before the Civil War.