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Release Date: 07/15/1998
Contact Information: Leo Kay, Press Office, (617) 918-4154

BOSTON - The Environmental Protection Agency awarded $400,000 in funds today to Middletown and Stamford to revitalize abandoned "brownfield" sites whose redevelopment has thus far been thwarted by contamination.

In Middletown, the pilot involves five waterfront sites and the Sumner Brook, a tributary of the Connecticut River. The sites include two underused commercial properties, an oil storage site, a waste water treatment plant, and a site on the Superfund inventory. The goals of the city's brownfields program include assessing sites, reclaiming Sumner Brook, identifying and quantifying cleanup strategies, and developing a community outreach program. EPA funds will be used for site assessments, an ecological impact study, a remedial action plan, community outreach, and project administration.

In Stamford, city officials will use their $200,000 to focus on the harbor redevelopment project. The harbor area has been designated a "state enterprise zone" and is included in a comprehensive strategy to reclaim the harbor as a major economic and recreational resource. Stamford was also named one of the first "showcase communities" by Vice President Al Gore in March.

"These investments achieve three critical objectives: they improve the health of urban neighborhoods, advance economic opportunity in our cities, and reduce sprawl by channeling development away from fields and forests," said John P. DeVillars, administrator of the EPA's New England Office. "We need to start working harder to reduce the urban sprawl that is increasingly leading to the loss of New England's precious habitats. Our brownfields program does just that. By providing incentives for businesses and developers to reuse abandoned properties in our cities and towns, we help protect virgin ecosystems from the developer's bulldozer."

"These two grants that literally will 'cover the waterfronts' when it comes to Middletown and Stamford," said Sen. Christopher Dodd. "By cleaning up these sites, we sweep away the past, and reseed the region with new economic and environmental growth and vitality."

"This is another important step toward transforming waterfront brownfields in Middletown and Stamford from polluted nightmares into fields of dream," said Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman. "The hope and promise of these grants is that we will make those dreams come true through an energetic environmental, economic and civic partnership that will improve our quality of life at these waterfronts and throughout the state."

"The brownfields grant program is a perfect example of how economic revitalization and environmental protection can go hand in hand," said Rep. Sam Gejdenson. "The funds that EPA is providing will help Middletown achieve its goal of restoring waterfront sites throughout the community. This restoration will spur economic development, improve public access to the waterfront and protect vital natural resources."

"This new grant, added to almost $1 million in brownfields money announced in June, will help Stamford leverage many times that amount in private investment. Despite Connecticut's bustling economy, the South End and Waterside are still marked in too many places by empty lots and barbed wire fences. This grant will help attract investment, jobs and hope, and that's why I have supported increased brownfields funding, " said Rep. Christopher Shays. "Stamford could not have received this money without a top-notch proposal put together by Mayor Malloy and his team."

As part of today's announcement, the EPA's New England office awarded nearly $1.8 million in grants and services to New England municipalities for brownfields activities. Since the program's inception four years ago, New England towns and municipalities from Limestone Maine to Bridgeport, Conn. have now received 38 brownfields grants, valued at more than $6.5 million.

Other grants going to New England municipalities today included: Brockton, Mansfield, the Montachusett Regional Planning Commission in Fitchburg, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection for work in Amesbury, and Colrain, Mass; the state of New Hampshire and the Central Rhode Island Development Corporation.