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City of Cortez urges property owners to apply for free ‘brownfield’ assessments

Assessments can lead to beautify properties and increase property values
A spill flowed down this drainage. Most of the contaminated soil has been removed, the Bureau of Land Management said. Courtesy of Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission

The city of Cortez is seeking nominations for brownfield site surveys and assessments from property owners who might be concerned about possible contaminants on their property.

A $2 million grant was awarded to Cortez, Longmont, Lyons, Firestone and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to identify and upgrade potential “brownfields.” They ask property owners to nominate underutilized properties that could be transformed from liabilities to community assets.

The Environmental Protection Agency defines a brownfield site as an unmovable property, reuse, the expansion or redevelopment that has been complicated by the presence or potential presence of a contaminant, hazardous substance or pollutant.

Sometimes only a perception of a site can impact a property’s value, and a brownfield survey can determine whether the land contains contaminants. Assessments can help beautify sites, improve property values and assist in securing funds for business expansion.

According to a news release through Cortez’s Community and Economic Development Department, surveys typically are conducted on land that was used by commercial or industrial firms, such as gas stations, landfills and abandoned factory sites.

The grant covers the costs to identify brownfields within Cortez’s city limits. Outlying properties and nearby areas also will be considered.

CEDD created a webpage to give residents information about the process and application procedure. It also provides guidance for identifying a possible brownfield site, support for property owners, success stories, meeting schedules and Cortez staff contacts.

Nomination forms should be submitted to Helen West, Community and Economic Development Specialist, through email: hwest@cortezco.gov. They can also be dropped off at the Cortez City Hall: attn: Helen West; 123 Roger Smith Ave., Cortez, CO 81321. Interested applicants can call Helen West at (970) 565-3402.

The funding will be available on a first-come, first-served basis likely through the summer 2027.

Funds for the brownfield initiative are provided by the EPA and managed by CDPHE. Stantec, the state’s contracted consultant, will perform the surveys. The company’s goal is to promptly assemble an inventory of Cortez sites which could transform into active and valuable spaces.