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Three Massachusetts Groups Get Grants to Help with Sprawl and Environmental Health

Release Date: 09/25/2000
Contact Information: Amy Miller, EPA Press Office (617-918-1042)

BOSTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that seven organizations in New England, including three Boston-area groups, will receive grants totaling more than $160,000 to help cities and towns protect the quality and health of their communities.

The Livable Communities Grants, which were first awarded last year as part of EPA New England's Smart Growth Initiative, were awarded to organizations in Chelsea, Lowell and southeastern Massachusetts, a region that is seeing skyrocketing growth.

EPA-NE's Livable Communities Grant Program challenges communities to invest in a better future by protecting green spaces, easing traffic, restoring and revitalizing neighborhoods, encouraging compact development, and educating local residents on environment and public health issues.

"We cannot stand still as developers gobble up nearly two acres of open space every hour in Massachusetts, much of it in southeastern Massachusetts," said Mindy S. Lubber, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office, who announced the grants at a Regional Sustainable Development Forum today at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "These grants will help protect the Commonwealth's valuable open space by targeting more development to our urban areas and by improving the overall livability of urban neighborhoods."

The grants, the result of a new partnership between EPA New England's Smart Growth Initiative and Urban Environmental Initiative, are as follows:

    • $25,000 - SE Mass Vision 2020/Targeted Investment Areas:This grant will support Southeastern Massachusetts Vision 2020, an initiative trying to protect the region's open space and distinctive character while still fostering growth. The recipient is the Southeastern Regional Planning & Economic Development District, which will use the funds to identify areas in the region where development is appropriate. The group also will work with federal, state and local governments as well as the private sector to create incentives that promote development in the targeted areas. The program will also address concerns of communities without this designation.
"We have been addressing the issue of sprawl in southeastern Massachusetts through our Vision 2020 initiative for several years, and this grant will enable us to focus not simply on protecting green spaces, but also on creating incentives to promote development in those areas where we have already made significant investments in our infrastructure," said Steve Smith, executive director of the Southeastern Regional Planning & Economic Development District. "We hope to create a more level playing field for development so that there is less pressure to develop our open spaces and farms."
    • $30,000 - Chelsea Green Space: This grant will support the Chelsea Green Space and Recreation Committee to teach residents how to revitalize and restore Chelsea Creek, one of the last remaining urban salt marshes in the Boston area. The project will include education, outreach, training and community planning.
"The money from the EPA Livable Communities Program will assist the community in a massive education campaign to revitalize Chelsea's only potential area for waterfront access," said Roseann Bongiovanni, project director of the Chelsea Green Space and Recreation Committee. "It will also play a key role in the community's vision for the redevelopment of Parkway Plaza. Without the EPA's constant contributions to the Chelsea Creek area, the community would not be so successful in its efforts to reclaim its urban waterfront."
    • $5,000 - Concord River Neighborhood Trail: This grant will support the Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust in its efforts to create a Concord River Neighborhood Trail linking Lowell's neighborhoods. This trail will contribute a missing five-mile link to the regional 200-mile Bay Circuit Trail connecting 50 communities. It will also bring commuters into downtown Lowell.
Other New England organizations chosen to receive Livable Community Grants are:
    • $25,000 to the Vermont Natural Resource Council: This funding will provide local and regional officials and citizens in Vermont with information and training on the tax implications of growth in the state. Vermont in 1997 passed a tax law that has significant implications for land-use development.
    • $25,000 to the Windham Regional Commission in Vermont. This program will investigate barriers to enacting smart growth and rural preservation land use implementation strategies and to develop a program to teach local officials how to implement strategies that will curb rural sprawl and promote compact village development patterns.
    • $28,000 to the Eastern Connecticut Resource Conservation & Development Area in Hartford, which will use the grant for its Park River Community Watershed Initiative aimed at improving the quality of life of residents by ensuring that urban natural resources and environmental quality are restored and maintained for education and recreation opportunities.
    • $21,589 for the Environmental Health Action Project in Providence. This program will educate and advocate for families with a high risk of through the joint efforts of The Providence Community Health Centers, Inc. and the Howard R. Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown University.