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Release Date: 11/16/1999
Contact Information: Amy Miller, EPA Press Office (617-918-1042)

BOSTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Rep. John B. Larson today announced that four Urban Environmental Initiative Community Grants worth $77,500 have been awarded to community groups in Hartford.

The grants will address high asthma rates, lead poisoning problems and other environmental hazards in the Hartford metropolitan area. Among the grants being awarded is $20,000 to the Eastern Connecticut Resource Conservation and Development Area for its Urban Greenspace Revitalization Project to help restore and maintain the South Branch of the Park River Watershed.

This revitalization will improve the neighborhood by cleaning an overgrown dumping area and transforming it into a park geared towards uses like biking, walking or sitting along the river.

The announcement of the four grants is being made on the same day as local and state officials are holding a community meeting to discuss the Urban Greenspace Revitalization Project. The meeting is scheduled for 6 pm tonight at the Southwest Girls and Boys Club at One Chandler St.

"This restoration along the South Branch of the Park River will bring significant benefits to people who live in the Behind the Rock neighborhood," said John P. DeVillars, EPA's New England Administrator. "We are delighted that EPA grant money will help create bikeways, parks and trails that can invigorate a neighborhood."

"Today's grant announcement is indicative of the great strides that are being made throughout the First Congressional District to improve the quality of life for residents," said US Rep. John Larson. "Having toured the South Branch Park River Open Space area with EPA New England Administrator John DeVillars in mid-August, I am extremely pleased that the Eastern Connecticut Resource Conservation will receive $20,000 to continue its commitment to restoring this area."

Urban Environmental Initiative Grants, targeted towards urban neighbors are meant to improve the quality of life through restoring and revitalizing the environment, building the capacity of citizens to address environmental problems and promoting sustainable development.

Other grants announced include the following:

Healthy Homes: Asthma and Lead Safe: The Hartford Regional Lead Treatment Center at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center received $15,000 to expand its program to serve children with severe asthma and their families.

Community Environmental Outreach: The Hartford Health Department received $27,500 to hire an outreach worker to work with local communities in addressing environmental health issues such as exposure to lead, trash, rodents.

Community Education and Action Project: Connecticut Voice for Children - Building Parent Power, a parent-led advocacy group, has been awarded $15,000 to develop training and education materials to teach parents about local environmental issues.