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EPA Brownfields Grants Will Assist Vermont Communities with Site Assessments and Clean-up

EPA Grants Help Return Blighted Properties to Productive Reuse and Promote Economic Redevelopment

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BOSTON - Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that six Vermont communities are among 144 communities across the United States to benefit from EPA funding for brownfield site revitalization efforts.

EPA intends to award Brownfields grants to the following groups for work in Vermont:

  • Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, with a $300,000 grant to assess sites in Burlington and Winooski;
  • Northeastern VT Development Association, with a $600,000 grant to assess sites in Newbury City and St. Johnsbury;
  • Town of Springfield, with a $250,000 grant for Community-wide assessments;
  • Vermont River Conservancy, with a $200,000 grant for cleanup work at 250 Birge Street in Brattleboro.

The Vermont based grantees are among 221 grants awarded nationwide, totaling $54.3 million. The EPA Brownfields funding will provide communities with funding to assess, clean up and redevelop underutilized properties while protecting public health and the environment.

"EPA's Brownfields Program expands the ability of communities to recycle vacant and abandoned properties for new, productive reuses, using existing infrastructure," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. "These grants leverage other public and private investments, and improve local economies through property cleanup and redevelopment."

EPA's Brownfields grants to Vermont this year are another significant annual investment by EPA to help New England communities address brownfield properties. Across the six New England states this year, EPA is awarding 26 grants totaling $8.35 million, which will help up to 75 communities undertake work assessing or cleaning brownfields.

"EPA is very proud of our robust and effective Brownfields program here in New England," said Alexandra Dunn, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "EPA Brownfields funding has made a tangible and lasting difference in hundreds of communities, helping citizens and civic leaders to revitalize abandoned or underutilized properties, and return them to productive use for people to enjoy."

"Reclaiming historic brownfield sites is vital to support the traditional - and smart - settlement patterns of our village centers and down towns, and to support vibrant local economies," said Emily Boedecker, Commissioner of the Dept. of Environmental Conservation. "These awards are a great step forward for Vermont, and a testament to the commitment and collaboration between the regional planning commissions, communities, state government and the EPA that make this such a successful program."

The Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission was selected for two brownfields assessment grants for work in Burlington and Winooski. A $200,000 Community-wide hazardous substances grant will be used to conduct four "Phase I" and five "Phase II" environmental site assessments, prepare two archeological assessment reports, and conduct cleanup planning activities at six sites. A $100,000 Community-wide petroleum grant will be used to conduct two "Phase I" and at least two "Phase II" environmental site assessments, prepare one archeological assessment report, and conduct cleanup planning activities at two sites. Grant funds of both types will be used to conduct community outreach activities.

"The Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC) greatly appreciates the award of these EPA Brownfields Assessment funds. Since 2006, the CCRPC has assisted numerous non-private and private developers with Brownfields assessment, remediation, and reuse planning to enable the construction of critically-need housing units as well as aid commercial redevelopment and open space creation. Assessment funding is a critical first step toward addressing a wide range of sites that may be vacant, underused or have real or suspected contamination concerns. These funds are in high demand and the CCRPC looks forward to continuing to assist in-fill redevelopment for affordable housing, mixed use buildings and other projects that boost livability and economic development," said Charlie Baker, Executive Director of Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission.

The Northeastern Vermont Development Association (NVDA) was selected for two Brownfields assessment coalition grants for work in Newbury City and St. Johnsbury. A $300,000 Community-wide hazardous substances grant will be used to conduct seven "Phase I" and four "Phase II" environmental site assessments, and develop three reuse plans. Grant funds also will be used to maintain the NVDA's brownfields inventory, prioritize brownfield sites, and prepare two area-wide plans. A $300,000 Community-wide petroleum grant will be used to conduct the same tasks at sites with potential petroleum contamination.

"It has been quite a few years since Northeastern Vermont Development Association (NVDA) has had EPA assessment funds to help advance development projects in our 3-county region of Vermont. NVDA and our coalition partners in St. Johnsbury and Newport are currently looking at a number of proposed development initiatives where EPA assessment funds can be used to assist putting contaminated properties back into productive use. We look forward to working with EPA Region 1 to make this happen," said David Snedeker, Executive Director of Northeastern Vermont Development Association.

The Town of Springfield was selected for two brownfields assessment grants. A $200,000 Community-wide hazardous substances grant will be used to conduct three "Phase I" and three "Phase II" environmental site assessments, and develop three cleanup plans. A $50,000 Community-wide petroleum grant will be used to conduct one "Phase I" and one "Phase II" environmental site assessments, and develop one cleanup plan. Grant funds of both types also will be used to conduct community outreach activities.

"The Town of Springfield is extremely pleased to have received such needed funding and the timing couldn't be better. Following the completion of the Springfield Master Plan, I believe the town has reached a pivotal point with developer interest in the economic potential of our historic downtown. This funding for brownfields assessment is the spark which will get these projects moving forward. We have strong community support for the revitalization of our brownfields and will strive to clean up new sites which will complement the successful redevelopment of the 100 River Street complex, also made possible with the support of the EPA's Brownfields Program," said Tom Yennerell, Town Manager of the Town of Springfield, VT.

The Vermont River Conservancy was selected for a $200,000 Community-wide hazardous substances cleanup grant will be used at the vacant site at 250 Birge Street in Brattleboro. Historically the site of an icehouse and office, it served as a sawmill and lumber storage yard from 1904 to approximately 1960, and has been vacant and unused since then except for lumber storage. The site is contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Grant funds also will be used to conduct community outreach activities.

"Removing contaminated soils from the "Sawdust Alley" property in downtown Brattleboro is a crucial first step in the restoration of a 12-acre floodplain on Whetstone Brook that will alleviate flood damage to downstream properties. The project will also provide a significant new open space area for Brattleboro residents to wander along the shoreline of Whetstone Brook and enjoy the birds and wildlife that will return to this urban setting," said Steve Libby, Executive Director of Vermont River Conservancy.

In New England, since the beginning of the Brownfields program, EPA has awarded 382 assessment grants totaling $110.5 million, 75 revolving loan fund grants and supplemental funding totaling $102.9 million and 290 cleanup grants totaling $71.8 million. These grant funds have paved the way for more than $2.9 billion in public and private cleanup and redevelopment investment and for over 18,100 jobs in assessment, cleanup, construction and redevelopment.

A brownfield is a property for which the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. There are estimated to be more than 450,000 brownfields in the U.S. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties increases local tax bases, facilitates job growth, utilizes existing infrastructure, takes development pressures away from undeveloped, open land, and both improves and protects the environment.

The EPA Brownfields Program targets communities that are economically disadvantaged and provides funding and assistance to transform contaminated sites into assets that can generate jobs and spur economic growth. A study analyzing 48 Brownfields sites found that an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional tax revenue was generated for local governments in a single year after cleanup. This is two-to-seven times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of these brownfield sites. Another study found that property values of homes located near brownfield sites that are cleaned up increased between 5 and 15 percent post cleanup.

Communities can use EPA Brownfields funding to leverage considerable infrastructure and other financial resources. For example, EPA's Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund can be used to address the water quality aspects of brownfield sites and the assessment and construction of drinking water infrastructure on brownfields, respectively. EPA's Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program may also serve as a potential source of long-term, low-cost supplemental financing to fund brownfield project development and implementation activities to address water quality aspects of brownfields.

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