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Release Date: 06/21/1999
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office (617-918-1008)

BOSTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that the City of Salem has been chosen to receive a $200,000 Brownfield assessment pilot grant that will target a 132-section of the city used previously for tanning and other manufacturing.

Salem is among three cities in Massachusetts and among 57 sites chosen nationally for $11.4 million of Brownfield pilot grants, which are designed to help spur the assessment and cleanup of contaminated urban parcels so that they can be redeveloped. Taunton and Marlborough also received $200,000 grants.

The grant to Salem will be used to prioritize and assess various contaminated parcels in a section of the city known as the Boston-Bridge-Mason corridor. The center of the city's tanning industry from the mid-1700s to the late 1980s, the 132-acre corridor is now dominated by abandoned and underutilized properties such as the FlynnTan complex and Salem Suede Inc.

"All over the country and all over New England, Brownfield sites likes the ones we have here in Salem are being cleaned up and restored, thereby creating new jobs, new tax revenues and new urban vitality," said John P. DeVillars, EPA's New England Administrator. "This $200,000 grant will provide much-needed momentum to get the ball rolling in Salem, beginning with the crucial first step of getting some of these sites assessed so we can determine how much they are contaminated."

"This grant is great news for Salem and its economic future," added Salem Mayor Stanley J. Usovicz Jr., who joined DeVillars in announcing the grant today in Salem. "We look forward to using this money to start turning this area of the city around."

One of the first uses of the grant will be to form an advisory group comprised of public, private and community leaders to assist the city and EPA in identifying prospective Brownfields sites and which of those sites should be targeted first for site assessments. The advisory group will include city employees and community/neighborhood volunteers such as the Salem Chamber of Commerce, the Salem Harbor Community Development Corp., the Salem Partnership and the Wards 4 and 5 Neighborhood Community Groups.

"This grant represents an important first step in assisting Salem in its efforts to restore this site to productive use," said U.S. Rep. John Tierney. "These funds will be used to conduct site assessments and to evaluate the proposed development of the area. We have seen how effective this kind of help from the EPA has been in other communities. The end result will be an expanded tax base and a cleaner and healthier environment for the people of Salem."

"This program provides the funds necessary to assess the threats to public health while involving communities in the best possible future use for the sites," U.S. Senator John F. Kerry said. "This funding will aid these communities in bolstering economic development and creating cleaner and healthier environments for their citizens."

DeVillars said the Brownfield program is among numerous initiatives the Clinton Administration has launched to revitalize the nation's cities. Among those efforts is the recently-proposed Better America Bonds Initiative, which would give cities, states and tribal governments the ability to issue nearly $10 billion in bonds. The interest-free bonds could be used for preserving open space, creating parks, preserving wetlands and cleaning up Brownfield sites.

A total of $1.4 million in Brownfield grants were awarded today to seven New England communities, including:

    • $200,000 to the City of Taunton, which will use the money to conduct site assessment work and cleanup planning at a 15-acre former tannery property.
    • $200,000 to the City of Marlborough, which will use the money to complete environment assessments at the Frye Boot and Tannery Site and identify and assess properties along the Assabet River Rail Trail.
Brownfield grants were also awarded to Haddam, Conn., New Milford, Conn., Winsted, Conn. and the Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission in Vermont.