Barberton is hoping to turn some of its grungiest commercial sites into properties where businesses will be eager to locate.

The city received a $300,000 federal grant to help access and clean up abandoned industrial and commercial properties — some of which may contain hazardous waste.

The city was only one of a handful in Ohio to receive a targeted federal brownfields grant this month. Brownfields are previously developed sites that are often contaminated with hazardous waste, although the term can apply to properties with no known pollution.

Barberton Mayor Bill Judge said in an email that the grant can be used citywide, but will focus on brownfields that can be redeveloped.

“Previous grant awards were used throughout the city and helped a number of existing businesses as they planned for expansion or development,” the mayor said.

In a followup email on Wednesday, Judge cited locations where Akron Rubber Development Laboratories on Robinson Avenue and MAG Resources W. Wooster Road are located as brownfield success stories.

In Barberton’s case, the mayor said the funds will be used to develop reports to assess the property and limit liability of “an innocent landowner, a contiguous property owner, or a bona fide prospective purchaser,” according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules.

“These are typically the first things inquired about from developers and businesses when looking to move to a new area or existing businesses when looking to expand,” the mayor said. “Having available funds … allows for better planning and easier, quicker development.”

In comments from an EPA news release announcing the grants, Barberton’s Director of Planning and Community Development Joseph M. Stefan said the city has had significant success with brownfield funds in the past.

“Keeping this momentum of brownfield redevelopment and job creation moving forward is extremely important for our community and would not be possible without this funding,” Stefan said.

According to the EPA, there are more than 450,000 brownfields in the U.S.

As of May, according to the agency, more than 30,000 properties have been assessed under the EPA Brownfields Program. The agency said more than 86,000 acres of idle land have been made ready for productive use, and that communities throughout the U.S. have used the grants to leverage 150,120 jobs and $28 billion of public and private funding.

Mayor Judge said that the grants are especially useful in cities like Barberton, where longterm employers have left the city.

The most recent, and one of the most devastating, has been the loss of Babcock & Wilcox, which was a blow to the city's tax base and leaves 25 acres of industrial space to be filled. The city is facing a difficult budget situation in the next fiscal year due to the loss that has jolted the political scene and quashed pay raises for elected city officials that were planned on in prior years.

“In an older industrial community, this funding goes a long way to positively impact the community,” the mayor said.

Projects in Ashtabula, Cuyahoga and Richland counties were the only others in Ohio to receive the grants from the EPA.