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EPA Awards $1.5 Million of Brownfields Funding to Rhode Island; Five Rhode Island Grants Among $75.4 Million Awarded Nationally

Release Date: 06/15/04
Contact Information: Contact: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office, (617) 918-1008

For Immediate Release: June 15, 2004; Release # 04-06-17

BOSTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced it is awarding $1.5 million to the state of Rhode Island to help assess, clean and redevelop abandoned, contaminated parcels known as Brownfields. The funding is among $75.4 million of Brownfields grants announced today by EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt, including $8.6 million to New England alone. It is the largest Brownfields funding announcement in the agency's history.

"These grants will help spur the cleanup of abandoned, contaminated parcels all across New England, especially in cities like Providence, Cranston and East Providence which will directly benefit from these funds," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office.

Funds will be awarded to the following (with more details on next page):

    • $600,000, R.I. Economic Development Corp., capitalize the state's Brownfields Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund
    • $400,000, R.I. Economic Development Corp., site assessments
    • $200,000, City of Cranston, site assessments
    • $200,000, Meeting Street Center, East Providence, cleanup of Providence parcel
    • $100,000, Puente, Responsible Development in Olneyville and Beyond, site assessment
EPA's Brownfields funds help communities assess contamination at abandoned and vacant sites and estimate the costs of cleaning up sites for redevelopment. Municipalities and select organizations can also receive funding for cleanup grants and to establish revolving loan programs that provide low interest loans for cleanups.

The funding for this and other projects is a direct result of Brownfields legislation signed by President Bush in 2002. In addition to making more sites eligible for cleanup, including petroleum contaminated sites, the legislation greatly increased funding to assist nonprofit groups, municipalities, regional agencies and states in various tasks associated with restoring and revitalizing Brownfields properties, of which there are thousands across New England. The law authorizes up to $250 million in funds annually for Brownfield grants, including up to $50 million for assessment and cleanup of low-risk petroleum contaminated sites.

Since 1995, EPA has provided more than $91 million for grants, site evaluations, job training and cleanup loan programs to dozens of communities and agencies across New England, including more than $11.2 million to Rhode Island. EPA estimates that every acre of reclaimed Brownfields saves 4.5 acres of greenspace and every greenspace created, on average, has doubled the value of surrounding properties.

The Brownfields program reflects a new model in environmental protection which is locally-based, forges strong public-private partnerships and promotes innovation and creativity. The program relies on market incentives and private sector actions to restore blighted properties. This approach empowers state and local environmental and redevelopment officials to oversee Brownfields activities, ensuring that local solutions are created to solve local problems.

EPA seeks to ensure that all citizens enjoy the benefits of a healthy environment and better quality of life, and that no community or neighborhood bares a heavier burden of environmental risks that may impact their health.

For more information, visit the following agency web sites at and

Additional details on grants to Rhode Island
Meeting Street Center in East Providence, $200,000: Funds will be used towards the cleanup of a seven-acre site in South Providence that is being redeveloped for a Meeting Street National Center of Excellence. The state-of-the-art campus, which will include school buildings, a gym, community meeting space and 2.8 acres of greenspace, is expected to bring about 370 new jobs to the South Providence neighborhood.

RI Economic Development Corp, $400,000: Funds will be used for assessment and preliminary redevelopment work at the Crompton Mills site in West Warwick and ongoing assessment activities at the historic Stillwater Mill site in Burrillville. Both redevelopment projects are being spearheaded by the municipalities.

City of Cranston, $200,000: Funds will be used to help the city identify, prioritize and assess numerous Brownfield sites across the city, including mixed industrial/commercial areas that encompass more than 2,000 acres. The city will begin with an overall inventory of vacant and underutilized sites, followed by preliminary environmental assessments of up to 10 sites.

RI Economic Development Corp., $600,000: Funds will be used to capitalize the state's Brownfields Cleans Revolving Loan Fund, which has already helped finance such projects as the construction of Save of Bay's new education center at Fields Point in Providence and a new facility for the YMCA of Greater Providence. Among the communities that will be targeted with the new funding is East Providence, which has plans underway for restoring and revitalizing more than 200 acres of waterfront property.

Puente, $100,000: Funds will be used for a targeted site assessment at 60 Valley St. in Providence's Olneyville neighborhood. The vacant mill building that the nonprofit group, Puente, is targeting is one of the oldest original mill buildings in the country.

Related Information:
NE Brownfields Web site

Smart Growth
NE Brownfields Success Stories