KCMO, KCK extend Google relationship to grant for brownfields

It seems unlikely, but high speed Internet and polluted brownfields meshed Thursday at the Google Fiber Space in Westport.

The partnership that Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas formed to attract Google made that the appropriate place to kick off a new joint effort, officials said.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James and KCK Mayor Mark Holland announced a $600,000 grant from the EPA to help both cities reuse brownfield properties.

The Google-forged relationship continues and invigorates, James said. “Just by being in this room today I do feel 100 times faster.”

Focus areas for the grant are high-speed Internet access, urban agriculture, infrastructure investment and workforce development.

The grant will help both cities identify and assess environmental contamination on the properties, which can then be used for urban farming, new businesses or green space, officials said.

Holland said that fixing the distressed sites can return development to city cores and combat sprawl.

The grant is also intended to leverage both cities’ access to high-speed Google Internet, which some people will get it to better coordinate brownfield grant activities, officials said in a press release.

The speedy Internet will also assist in making new living and work space, they said.

Once assessed for pollution, brownfield properties can be targeted for things like roads and sewers to help attract businesses.

The grant project area targets the bi-state downtown and industrial region. In KCK, it is bounded by 18th Street in the west, 43rd Avenue on the south and the Missouri River to the north.

In Missouri, the boundaries are Prospect Avenue to the east, 31st Street to the south and the downtown airport on the north.

The grant is to last three years and will fund at least 25 projects with about an equal number on each side of the state line, officials said.

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