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New Haven Wins Two EPA Healthy Community Grants

Release Date: 10/20/2003
Contact Information: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1014

NEW HAVEN, CONN. – Officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the City of New Haven, and community groups today announced two EPA grants for a cleaner New Haven. The grants, $50,000 to the City of New Haven for a community clean air initiative, and $15,000 to the New Haven Ecology project, are from EPA New England's Healthy Communities Grant Program.

"Urban areas, like New Haven, are battling many environmental problems, including air pollution and a lack of usable open space," said Ira Leighton, deputy regional administrator for EPA's New England Office. "These grants will help the people of New Haven make it a cleaner, more livable city."

"I welcome the support of the EPA in our efforts to reduce the air pollution that leads to asthma and other health problems," said John DeStefano, Jr., mayor of New Haven. "It is heartening to see examples where different levels of government can work together to address issues affecting our communities, and I thank the EPA for acknowledging and supporting our efforts."

The City of New Haven is receiving $50,000 for its Community Clean Air Initiative. New Haven County was identified by national air toxics inventories as having the second highest level of air toxics emissions in New England, which may lead to an increased risk of asthma and respiratory disease. This project will build on the previous work of the City's Departments of Health and City Planning by using their local comprehensive air inventory and pollution prevention strategy. This project will implement the city's risk reduction strategy by providing pollution prevention workshops to facilities, by encouraging voluntary retrofitting and use of ultra-low sulfur diesel by private diesel fleets and by reducing indoor air toxics through educational programs on toxic materials and second-hand smoke in the home. Project partners include the Conn. Department of Environmental Protection, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Environment Northeast, and the New Haven Environmental Justice Network.

The New Haven Ecology Project is receiving $15,000 for its Healthy Community Landscapes project. Urban children in New Haven have little access to safe outdoor play areas, contributing to a lack of physical activity and an increase in childhood obesity. New Haven has the second highest level of air toxics emissions in New England and a lack of open space. There is also little access to fresh and affordable fresh produce in the city. This project will reclaim unused urban space to expand an existing model urban farm. This project will plant crops, improve soil quality, and practice sustainable land management. Workshops for youth will involve them in the project through landscaping, and sessions on urban gardening will also be provided for community gardeners. The Urban Resource Initiative, Common Ground High School and the New Haven Land Trust are partners in the project.

"Despite poor air and water quality, New Haven has amazing open space resources that are under-used," said Oliver Barton, executive director of the New Haven Ecology Project. "This grant will allow us to engage youth in developing model schoolyard landscaping as they learn about urban food production, integrated pest management, and soil conservation. This grant demonstrates the EPA's understanding of cities as ecosystems, where residents, not-for-profit organizations, and city departments can work together to improve environmental health and be active stewards of natural resources."

The 2003 Healthy Communities Grant Program was designed in EPA New England and joins together resources from nine different programs including Assistance & Pollution Prevention: Schools Sector, Asthma, Children's Environmental Health, Community Air Toxics, Pesticides, Smart Growth, Tools for Schools, Toxics, and the Urban Environmental Program. The grant program competitively identifies top quality community-based projects that will achieve measurable environmental and human health improvements in communities across New England in the target investment areas of environmental justice areas of potential concern, places with high risks from toxic air pollution, service sensitive populations, and/or are urban areas.