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Release Date: 12/16/1999
Contact Information: Amy Miller, EPA Press Office (617-918-1042)

BOSTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week announced more than $1 million in funding to help cities and towns throughout New England grow in ways that protect the quality and health of their communities.

The funding includes a total of $225,000 in Livable Communities Grants, which are being awarded for the first time this year to help seven communities and regions manage their growth. The funding also includes $785,000 for 12 Targeted Brownfields Assessments to assess contamination at vacant or underutilized properties, which the communities plan to redevelop.

Two Livable Communities Grants worth a total of $50,000 will be awarded for projects in Vermont. The Vermont Forum on Sprawl will receive $25,000 for its Best Development Practices Project to identify the best practices for new development in Chittenden County and the state. These practices will be incorporated into a handbook that can be used by municipal officials to evaluate development proposals.

The Mad River Valley Planning District also will get $25,000 for its Irasville Growth Center Planning Project, which was designed to overcome obstacles to compact development in the region's growth center and relieve the pressures elsewhere in more rural parts of the town.

The Livable Communities grants have been made available as a direct result of EPA-New England's Smart Growth Conference, held last February in Boston, which was attended by more than 1,000 business, political and environmental leaders. At that time, EPA's New England Administrator John P. DeVillars recognized the importance of providing resources to towns and cities interested in managing growth.

"We are delighted to support communities throughout New England who are taking a lead in developing critical tools and methods for addressing unchecked and unplanned development," said Deputy Administrator Mindy Lubber. "Through these and other smart growth efforts, we can make New England a national model for livability in the 21st Century."

"This is a great project for Vermont because it will give towns the tools they need to encourage smarter growth and discourage sprawl," said Dana Farley, project coordinator for the Vermont Project on Sprawl.

"In our first phase we figured out what's making compact development difficult in Irasville, such as water and sewer problems, contradictory regulations and outdated zoning," said Juli Beth Hoover, executive director of the Mad River Valley Planning District. "We have strong support among landowners and the town for overcoming these problems and making good development the easy way to do things."

"We want to do thing right for the future of Irasville and the Valley. This is a great investment and a great step in that direction," said Dick Brothers, president of Brothers Building and a partner in the Irasville project.

Lubber also noted that plans by communities to reuse vacant or abandoned lots, known as brownfields, play a major role in revitalizing urban centers and protecting open spaces from sprawl.

"These grants to assess contamination and clean-up requirements for old and abandoned parcels will help communities put the land to good use in the future," Lubber said. "Communities who are actively looking for ways to renew their urban centers can count on our support and encouragement."

Other organizations that have been chosen to receive the first round of Livable Community Grants are:

    • Connecticut River Watershed Council to convene a growth forum on urban revitalization and sustainable agriculture in the valley between Hartford and Springfield;
    • The Conservation Law Foundation, based in Boston, for developing a guidebook to help New England towns and cities use zoning to curb sprawl;
    • Charles River Watershed Association to help the town of Holliston, Mass., assess future drinking water and wastewater disposal needs and develop related land use plans;
    • Alternatives for Community Environment, a Boston-based organization, to help bring together community residents to promote smart growth strategies for two to four sites in Roxbury;
    • Maine State Planning Officefor its Home Town Maine project to stem sprawl and restore neighborhoods around the state.
Funds for Targeted Brownfields Assessments are also going to projects in Lowell, Holyoke, Northampton, Gloucester and Quincy, Mass.; Derby and Shelton, Conn.; Providence, RI; Orono, Maine; and to Milton and Mont Vernon, NH.