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News Releases from Region 01

EPA Awards Funding for Brownfield Cleanup Planning in Lawrence and New Bedford, Mass. and Portland, Maine

Contact Information: 
David Deegan (deegan.dave@epa.gov)

BOSTON - The City of Lawrence, Mass., the City of New Bedford, Mass., and the Greater Portland Council of Governments are among 20 communities in 16 states selected to receive a grant of up to $200,000 from EPA for Brownfields Area-Wide Planning projects to assist with cleanup and reuse of Brownfields sites to revitalize communities and strengthen local economies.

The funding will help the communities work on Brownfields planning activities and reuse in conjunction with community assets such as housing, recreation and open space, employment, education and health facilities, social services, transportation options, infrastructure and commerce needs. The area-wide planning approach recognizes that revitalization of the area surrounding brownfield sites is also critical to the successful reuse of the property. The approach enables local leaders to conduct a community-wide systematic approach to identify uses and improvements in the area to foster public-private redevelopment efforts. This inclusive, locally driven planning approach advances health and equity by fostering plans for livable communities through jobs, recreation, housing, and an increased tax base.

"EPA's Brownfields funding provides communities with a necessary resource to help assess, clean up and redevelop contaminated properties, boosting local economies and leveraging jobs, all while protecting public health and the environment," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England office.

The City of Lawrence will work with the community and other stakeholders to develop an area-wide plan and implementation strategy to revitalize the Manchester Lawrence Rail Road (MLRR) corridor. The brownfield sites in the densely populated MLRR corridor have potential for redevelopment to address economic, environmental, public health, and safety concerns in the area. Key partners who will work with the city on this project include Groundwork Lawrence, Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, and Lawrence Redevelopment Authority.

"We are excited and grateful to receive this funding. This grant will allow us to get serious about improving the quality of life for the thousands of residents and dozens of businesses who are within and around the study area. For us, it means so much to create clean and safe spaces for our families. We also plan to develop creative commercial reuse options for the many vacant and blighted parcels along the rail," said City of Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera.

The City of New Bedford  will use their AWP funding to develop an area-wide plan and implementation strategy for the Payne Cutlery neighborhood, a 148-acre area along a 0.7-mile length of the planned SouthCoast Rail Corridor. Both the Payne Cutlery and the Dawson Brewery sites, selected for past assessment by a Brownfields Advisory Group, are immediately adjacent to the rail line. There are several other former Brownfield sites and other underutilized parcels, the proper planning and redevelopment of which will transform the neighborhood from a relatively isolated former industrial area to a Transit-Oriented Development hub. Key partners who will work with the city on this project include the Community Economic Development Center, Garfield Foundation, Global Learning Centers, NorthStar Learning Center, MassDevelopment, Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance, New Bedford Economic Development Council, and the South Coast Rail.

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said, "The EPA's announcement is particularly welcome news to the City of New Bedford and the neighborhood surrounding the former Payne Cutlery site. It has been a long-standing priority of the City's to return this brownfield site to productive economic use, and the new EPA funds will significantly advance our efforts. The commitment of our federal partners like the EPA and Congressman Keating on this project is heartening and deeply appreciated."

Funds will be used by the Greater Portland Council of Governments in partnership with the City of Portland to develop an area-wide plan for the East Bayside neighborhood of the city. Eleven businesses, organizations, and agencies have already signed on to participate in the project. The planning process will leverage over $45 million in public and private investment already planned for East Bayside over the next two years, including housing, infrastructure, and capital projects.

"Given that much of East Bayside was built on contaminated fill, almost any redevelopment will trigger environmental due diligence that can be supported through the Brownfields program," said Neal Allen, Executive Director of the Greater Portland Council of Governments. "We are pleased to collaborate with the City of Portland and the neighborhood to facilitate re-uses that increase economic opportunity and strengthen the community and neighborhood, including housing, arts, culture, and food enterprise."

The grants are part of the "Partnership for Sustainable Communities," an interagency partnership between EPA, the U.S. Dept. of Transportation and the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development. The funding recognizes that successful, sustained community revitalization, particularly in economically distressed communities, occurs when neighborhood stakeholders, local governments and the private sector are provided tools to develop a shared plan for redevelopment and community-wide improvement.

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