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ACRES Bulletin
March 2020

Showing Success in ACRES!



Throughout the 1960s, Smitty's Appliance & Auto Service, along with an accompanying gas station, sat precariously close to the Maquoketa River outside of Manchester. Due to repeated flooding from the river, the businesses finally closed their doors for good, leaving behind underground storage tanks and asbestos-ridden buildings.

The city of Manchester acquired the properties through voluntary purchase. Prior to the city's acquisition, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) provided funding for a Phase I environmental site assessment (ESA). This non-intrusive process helps to determine if further testing of soils or groundwater for contaminants (Phase II ESA) is necessary.

The city completed a Phase II ESA using East Central Intergovernmental Association (ECIA) Brownfields Assessment Coalition funds awarded under CERCLA section 104(k). The tests determined that the underground storage tanks did not pose any risk of release or concern. However, an asbestos-containing materials inspection indicated the presence of asbestos materials.

IDNR assisted the city with asbestos abatement through CERCLA section 128(a) sub-award funding, which prepared the property for safe demolition.

After cleanup and removal was complete, the city developed the site into Riverfront Park, which now includes a public shelter, restroom and shower house, and public event and concert space. Riverfront Park became the “water trailhead” for the city's Whitewater Park paddling park. Manchester had previously invested millions in adjusting the Maquoketa River's water flow to create a whitewater sport-challenge route. The acquisition, cleanup and revitalization of the Riverfront Park helped to make the final connection to Whitewater Park for public access.

Documented project accomplishments include:

  • Acres cleaned up and ready for reuse:
  • 1.18
  • Jobs leveraged: (redevelopment)
  • 9
  • EPA grant dollars invested:
  • $37,923
  • Leveraged funding (assessment):
  • $6,630
  • Leveraged funding (cleanup):
  • $14,244
  • Leveraged funding (redevelopment):
  • $1,361,000



    Former Smitty's Appliance/Auto Service
    Former Smitty's Appliance/Auto Service


    Signs



    Entrance to Whitewater Park
    Entrance to Whitewater Park


    News

    Brownfields National Training Conference a Huge Success

    ACRES Conference Training Sign The 2019 Brownfields National Training Conference was held in Los Angeles, California from December 11-13. With over 2,000 attendees and nearly 150 sessions, it was a huge success. Participants shared expert knowledge on a wide range of topics, including community engagement and environmental justice, liability and enforcement, and cleanup and remediation practices. Throughout the conference, the ACRES team delivered trainings to over 120 participants, who together represented new and existing grantees, as well as US EPA Brownfields Program project officers. For team ACRES, this was a major highlight! Additional conference highlights included featured plenary speakers Deb Brown and Kevin James, the Mayor's Roundtable, and Vijay Gupta's keynote presentation. You can find copies of presentations and materials from conference sessions on the conference website located at: https://brownfields2019.org/.

    ACRES Conference Los Angeles

    Features in ACRES

    ACRES 6 Improvements

    Team ACRES has continued to add functionality and to address issues on the new ACRES 6. A couple of improvements you may have noticed include:

    Navigation Improvement

    The menu bar at the top of the ACRES pages has new drop down menus so users can quickly navigate to most of the functions available on the Home page. Users can access all of these menus from any ACRES page, so you'll no longer need to return to the Home Page to access a different function.

    Reports Available

    The Section 128(a) State/Tribal Program Activity Levels (PALs) has been added to ACRES. This new feature will allow CAR State and Tribal users to enter their annual reporting information online. Previously, these users were sent a paper form to fill out and return.

    The Regional Status Report and the Regional Performance Report on Cooperative Agreements are available for Project Officers on ACRES 6. The first report provides a listing of all open work packages in your region, helpful for identifying work packages with accomplishments pending and for determining work that is taking a long time to complete. The second provides an overview of a region's grants including funding and accomplishment information.

    New Quarterly Report for RLF Grants

    The Quarterly Report for RLF grants is now available for use. Similar to the cleanup and assessment grants, the RLF grant type has an automated report that allows the CAR to create and submit required quarterly reports to EPA project officers.

    If you have any questions, problems or suggestions for ways ACRES can make your job more effective, please let us know by contacting the ACRES Help Desk at: acres_help@usepa.onmicrosoft.com or (703) 284-8212.

    Events & Training

    Online Training Offered:

    Getting Started:
      For Assessment, RLF, Cleanup, and Section 128(a) Recipients just starting to use ACRES, this training will provide instruction on the process for submitting your property data and demonstrate how to use the tools and functions in ACRES. Approximately 90 minutes.

    The Next Level:
      For Assessment, RLF, Cleanup, and Section 128(a) Recipients that are familiar with using ACRES, this training will provide instruction on how to make ACRES work for you and your property scenarios, and the answers to some commonly asked questions. Approximately 90 minutes.

    Project Officer:
      For Project Officers, a new training class will provide an overview of ACRES 6.0, highlighting new navigation features and covering the review of work packages and Quarterly Reports. Time to address questions will be provided after the system demonstration. Approximately 60 minutes.

      ACRES next Training Dates (2pm EST) details

     
    Getting Started- April 14
    June 9
    The Next Level- May 12
    July 14
    Job Training- TBD



    "Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat."

    ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder






    Frank's Tips

    Frank Gardner is the Brownfields Coordinator and the Regional Data Coordinator at EPA Region 1. In this role, he works with recipients to help them report their activities and successes in ACRES. Frank Gardner

    While cleaning up some old files recently I ran across a document from 10 years ago this month entitled “Potential ACRES Enhancements”. It was presented at a nationwide meeting of Brownfields Coordinators in March 2010 and discussed long term goals designed to enhance the ACRES user experience as well as the quality and completeness of the data being reported. The long term goals discussed at the 2010 meeting included work package sharing, regional EPA data entry, a regional planning module, and quarterly reporting. Having this fresh look at where we were a decade ago made be reflect on how much we have accomplished and how far we have come since then.

    Work package is a capability we added to ACRES several years ago that is now the standard for online collaboration. Multiple users entering cooperative agreement recipient data in ACRES can work together to submit one work package. For example, a recipient often creates a work package, completes the property background and financial information, and then shares the work package with their Qualified Environmental Professional (QEP) who inputs the environmental and technical information. The QEP then returns it to the recipient to review, finalize, and submit to EPA. Work package sharing promotes the entry of more complete and accurate data through collaboration.

    Regional data entry is a way for EPA staff to add data into old grants after they have been closed out and recipient staff are no longer available. This has proven to be a very helpful way for EPA to capture some great project outcomes at Brownfields redevelopment projects that were delayed or otherwise took longer than expected. It also helps EPA with certain data cleanup efforts with regard to grants from the early days of the program before all recipients were using ACRES. EPA staff do not have the ability to enter data on any open or active grants, and they cannot do data entry for recipients. It's important to stress that the terms and conditions of our grants now require all recipients to enter their information into ACRES.

    The regional planning module was originally envisioned as a way for EPA to collect and compile information about projected future grant accomplishments in order to assist with EPA's internal target-setting purposes. Team ACRES and the Brownfields Coordinators ended up not going in this direction. It was determined that it was best to keep ACRES as a place focused on reporting of actual information, outputs and outcomes, as opposed to projections of future accomplishments. Out of the discussion over this goal, however, Team ACRES did build out a regional performance report function. It gives EPA Project Officers the ability to see a quick snapshot overview for each cooperative agreement they manage, including properties associated, outputs and outcomes reported, and funding expended. Providing Project Officers a high level overview of these performance metrics help them identify which recipients may need help in reporting.

    The quarterly reporting discussion initially envisioned the ability to upload quarterly report generated offline. Over time, we realized that enabling recipients to generate their quarterly reports online within ACRES would provide the dual benefits of reducing the overall reporting burden while improving the completeness and quality of the data in ACRES. By automatically populating the electronic quarterly report template with the Property Profile Form data previously entered by the recipient the problem of ACRES data differing from information in quarterly reports was eliminated. Requiring recipients to log into ACRES on at least a quarterly basis has raised the overall level of proficiency among the user community.

    The track record of continuous improvement in ACRES over the past 10 years has both improved the use experience and provided us with much more complete and accurate data. More than ever, ACRES tells the story of our Brownfields program with numbers to which people can easily relate, such as properties assessed, properties cleaned up, jobs leveraged, and dollars leveraged. I look forward to seeing what further improvements and enhancements the next ten years will bring!

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