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Release Date: 03/12/1999
Contact Information: Alice Kaufman, EPA Press Office, (617) 918-1064

Boston - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today awarded $200,000 to Great Barrington, Massachusetts, as part of a national commitment to revitalize abandoned sites where redevelopment has been slowed because of contamination on the property. EPA calls these sites "brownfields."

"What were once considered stumbling blocks to redevelopment are now building blocks," said EPA's New England administrator John P. DeVillars. "Here in Massachusetts, we are proving that environmental protection and sustainable economic development go hand in hand."

This brownfields grant will be used to assess a 9-acre downtown industrial site on the Housatonic River. The property has been vacant since 1993 when its tenant at the time, New England Log Homes, went out of business. New England Log Homes was a wood processing and treatment facility.

Brownfields are abandoned, idled, or under-used industrial and commercial facilities where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination. These properties are often in inner city areas or surrounding communities and do not pose a serious public health risk to the community. However, because of the stigma of contamination and legal barriers to redevelopment, these properties may lie vacant for years.

Since 1995, EPA has granted hundreds of brownfields grants of up to $200,000 each. The program brings together people who live near contaminated land, businesses that want to get land cleaned up, community leaders, investors, lenders and developers. Together, they seek ways to restore abandoned sites to new uses -- increasing property values, stimulating tax revenues, creating jobs and job training opportunities, and revitalizing inner-city neighborhoods.