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EPA Grants Will Help Communities to Cleanup Land in Maine and Massachusetts

Release Date: 10/15/2010
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – Oct. 15, 2010) – The City of Lowell, Mass., the Town of Sanford, Maine, and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, based in Chicopee, Mass., will receive EPA grants of approximately $175,000 each to foster clean up of sites known as “brownfields” which may be contaminated by hazardous chemicals or pollutants.

The grants are part of an award of $4 million in assistance to 23 communities, many in under-served and economically disadvantaged areas, to develop area-wide plans for the reuse of brownfields properties.  The plans will integrate site cleanup and reuse into coordinated strategies to lay the foundation for addressing community needs such as economic development, job creation, housing, recreation, and education and health facilities. EPA’s Brownfields program helps revitalize former industrial and commercial sites, turning them from problem properties to productive community use.

“EPA's efforts to help New England communities reclaim brownfields has been a powerful economic force bolstering our economy and strengthening our communities,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "We are proud that this program has a proven track record, helping to jump start local economies, putting people to work assessing, cleaning and reclaiming abandoned parcels, returning property to productive uses."

EPA will work with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, the City of Lowell and the Town of Sanford to identify ways their planning efforts can utilize local, state and federal resources to help implement area-wide efforts for housing, transportation, economic growth and healthy communities. The grant recipients will be able to leverage the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, a joint effort of EPA, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Economic Development Administration, to identify potential resources to help move the community plans forward.

EPA is awarding up to $175,000 each per selected recipient to help facilitate community involvement in developing an area-wide plan for a brownfields impacted area, such as a neighborhood, district, city block or corridor. The assistance will be provided through grant funding or agency support. EPA and its partner federal agencies will work with the selected communities to:

    ·        Use the funds to identify potential future uses for brownfields properties.

    ·        Create a set of area-wide strategies that will help ensure successful assessment, cleanup and reuse of the brownfields sites.

    ·        Develop strategies for facilitating the reuse of existing infrastructure, including taking into account potential infrastructure investments needed to accommodate alternative future uses of brownfields properties.

All three New England grant recipients are in a category called a Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Pilot Program. 

The City of Lowell will focus their assistance on the Tanner Street Corridor, which is south of the city’s central business district and home to 1,768 residents. Most of the area is zoned for heavy industry, with some commercial and residential areas on the periphery. It is one of only a few active industrial areas in Lowell, with an emphasis on automobile and metal recycling. The city has identified at least six brownfield sites in the project area.

The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission is focusing on downtown Chicopee’s West End neighborhood. With a population of 2,025, this area was once home to major manufacturers of textiles, munitions, and shoes, and supported a thriving working-class neighborhood. Today, many former industrial and commercial sites in the area are contaminated and underused. The city has developed a Downtown Revital­ization Plan that incorporates the community’s vision for revital­izing the downtown area, including the West End. The area-wide plan will focus on sustainable approaches to brownfields redevelopment, including the use of alternative energy generators, reuse of current infrastructure, and creation of greenspace.

The Town of Sanford, located in southwestern Maine (population 22,000) was a thriving mill town until the 1950s, when the textile industry collapsed. Sanford will focus on the Mill Yard area, 45 acres located in downtown San­ford, which once was the economic heart of town. The Mill Yard has a history of extensive industrial use and contains at least 20 brownfields. The brownfields area-wide plan will focus on site reuse plans that maximize the reuse of existing infrastructure and allow for additional greenspace and recreational opportunities.

More information on the partnership:

EPA’s Brownfields program in New England ( )

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