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City of New Bedford Gets $200,000 as an EPA Brownfields Showcase Community

Release Date: 06/18/2001
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, Press Office (617) 918-1008

BOSTON - The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that New Bedford has been designated as a Brownfields Showcase Community, bringing together more than 15 federal agencies to help clean and develop vacant industrial sites. Today's announcement includes an award of $200,000 for the city's Brownfields efforts.

New Bedford, the fourth largest city in Massachusetts, received one of two Showcase Community designations in New England and 12 being awarded nationally.

A former manufacturing and fishing center, New Bedford has lost more than 11,000 manufacturing jobs and 16 percent of its fishermen have lost their jobs. The city's unemployment rate is 12 percent and 20 percent of the population lives in poverty.

"This designation will help the New Bedford build the kind of community that will attract new activity and jobs to its downtown," said Ira Leighton, acting regional administrator of EPA's New England Office, at a press conference today at Wildlife Education Center at the Buttonwood Park Zoo. "As a showcase community, the city will also create a model for other regions with decreasing populations and high poverty rates."

Including today's grant, EPA has invested $1 million in Brownfields funding to New Bedford, $21 million to Massachusetts and $46 million to New England.

"Congress and the EPA are committed to revitalizing polluted sites that once were given up for dead. Neighborhoods and businesses across the country are proving that the best days of these Brownfields are in the future, not in the past." added US Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. "This designation will create new opportunities for New Bedford to clean up their brownfields and turn them into engines for new job creation and economic growth."

"The Brownfields effort represents the marriage of sound environmental policy and sound economic policy that will attract more businesses and families to New Bedford," said US Sen. John F. Kerry. "Investments in Brownfields restoration continue to be a catalyst to our great historic cities like New Bedford. We must continue to support environmental programs that engage local communities in their own environmental cleanup and economic development."

"I'm pleased that I was able to help New Bedford win this designation, as part of our joint effort to build on the economic progress we've been making together," said US Rep. Barney Frank.

In New Bedford, which has been doubly burdened by population loss and high poverty rates, the city has identified 31 vacant and abandoned Brownfield sites and assessed contamination at half of them. The showcase designation will help assess contamination at the other sites, identify new sites and plan for future use.

In particular, New Bedford aims to:

    • identify other Brownfield sites;
    • redevelop the former Standard Times field into a 10-lot subdivision for industrial marine related uses;
    • help secure and develop the former Star Store site for the University of Massachusetts
    • Create 3,700 new jobs
New Bedford has also received funds towards these goals from several other federal and state agencies, including the Department of Commerce, the US Department of Transportation, the US Department of the Interior and the Mass. Department of Housing and Community Development.