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Release Date: 05/13/1997
Contact Information: Leo Kay, Press Office, (617)918-4154

BOSTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded $724,780 to Massachusetts municipalities today as part of a renewed national commitment to revitalize abandoned "brownfield" sites whose redevelopment has thus far been thwarted by contamination.

Today's grants announcements were accompanied by a White House call for increased brownfields opportunities for municipalities plagued by abandoned, polluted properties. Fifteen federal agencies have teamed with 10 other organizations to pledge $300 million in grants and contracts, and $165 million in loan guarantees. White House officials also renewed the administration's proposal to provide tax incentives to those interested in returning to productive use contaminated properties.

The Massachusetts grants include $197,000 to Westfield, $175,000 to New Bedford, $125,000 to Greenfield, $200,000 to Lynn and $30,000 to Chicopee. As part of today's announcement, the EPA's New England office awarded more than $1.3 million in grants and services to New England municipalities for brownfields activities. Since the program's inception three years ago, New England towns and municipalities from Limestone Maine to Bridgeport, Conn. have now received 20 brownfields grants, valued at more than $3.5 million. New England has received more brownfields grants than any other region the country.

"What were once considered stumbling blocks to redevelopment are now building blocks," said John P. DeVillars, administrator of the EPA's New England office. "Here in Massachusetts, EPA and our community partners will prove yet again that environmental protection and sustainable economic development go hand in hand."

"I am pleased that Massachusetts communities have once again proved their willingness to not only create a cleaner environment, but to explore ways to create new jobs," said Senator Edward M. Kennedy. "The brownfields pilot program is an innovative way for local, state, federal and private organizations to work on solving the problems of environmental mitigation and economic redevelopment together. I commend the communities of New Bedford, Greenfield, Westfield, Lynn and Chicopee for the hard work they have put into this."

"By cleaning up these abandoned waste sites we invest in a cleaner and safer environment while we invest in the local economic base of Massachusetts," said Senator John Kerry, who is a co-sponsor of S.8, "Brownfields and Environmental Cleanup Act of 1997." "This essential funding helps each community implement its innovative brownfield plan, and will be an important part of the area's economic recovery. I will continue to work for an active federal brownfield program to improve the quality of life of citizens in our state."

"I am delighted that, working together, we were able to include New Bedford in this grant program. This shows how adequate financing of federal programs works for the benefit of our citizens," said Congressman Barney Frank.

"This is tremendous news for the Greenfield and Westfield communities. By initiating brownfields studies at these two Franklin and Hampden County sites, we provide Greenfield and Westfield the tools to make a real difference, both environmentally and economically," said Congressman John W. Olver. "By focusing on the GTD site in Greenfield, we provide area residents with new hope for economic redevelopment in the downtown area. This study will facilitate positive change for the Franklin County area.

"In Westfield, the dedicated efforts of the city and the CDC have made the H.B. Smith site an important investment to the region. By beginning the process of cleaning up downtown Westfield, we can create a significant opportunity for economic reinvestment in the area," Olver said.

"The awarding of this grant is a tribute to the determination and commitment of Lynn Mayor Pat McManus and his economic development team for making this a priority," said Congressman John Tierney. "My thanks and appreciation also go out to John DeVillars for his invaluable efforts in making this opportunity a reality. I look forward to working with city officials in the rebuilding of these sites."

"Brownfield redevelopment is a defining environmental issue. The federal grants announced today are an important boost to cleaning up these contaminated sites," said Massachusetts Environmental Affairs Secretary Trudy Coxe. "The Weld/Cellucci administration is committed to building on the federal assistance by winning passage of its state-wide brownfield reform package."

The following cities and towns received brownfields grants today:

In New Bedford, the city will identify old industrial sites and redevelop those suitable into aquaculture facilities. The EPA grant will be used to develop evaluation criteria for aquaculture development projects, select sites, perform environmental assessments, develop remediation cost estimates, and analyze incentive options. This information will be used to build a marketing plan for potential aquaculture investors. Potential brownfields include abandoned mill sites, machine shops, and chemical and textile processing plants.

The Greenfield project will develop a partnership among the town, private consultants, UMASS-Amherst, and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to prepare an environmental assessment and remediation plan for the Greenfield Tap and Die facility, an abandoned 145,000 square-foot machine tool facility. The ultimate goal is to eliminate environmental concerns at the site, create the opportunity for redevelopment, and restore the site as an economic asset. The Town of Greenfield has suffered a significant decline in its industrial base due to the abandonment of older industrial buildings in the town's center and a 37 percent loss in manufacturing jobs.

In Westfield,one of the oldest industrialized communities in Western Massachusetts, the town has identified a 6.25-acre site downtown for redevelopment. The H.B. Smith Company, a manufacturer of residential, commercial, and industrial boilers, began operation at the site in 1853 and closed four years ago. The city will use the federal funds to assess the extent of contamination and develop a remediation and redevelopment strategy for the site.

Lynn officials have identified for redevelopment a former laundry or dry cleaner in a residential neighborhood, a long-time tannery site in an industrial sector, and a 25-acre landfill/utility site on the waterfront. The EPA funds will be used to create a process that allows the city to identify and assess the brownfields areas, solicit business and grassroots participation through outreach and education, and leverage funding.

Finally, Chicopee plans on redeveloping the former Conway Bedding Site and the former Hallahan Lumber Site. Last year, the EPA gave a $60,000 grant to Chicopee to redevelop an abandoned building that was formerly used by a wire manfacturing company. Today's announcement builds on that project.