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EPA Announces Brownfields Grants for Five Massachusetts Communities; Part of Grants to 80 Communities Nationwide

Release Date: 05/20/2002
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, EPA Press Office (617) 918-1013

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today it will spend $2.25 million to help assess, clean and redevelop abandoned, contaminated sites throughout New England, including $950,000 for five projects in Massachusetts.

"Reclaiming America's brownfields properties is an effective way to help revitalize and reinvigorate our nation's blighted neighborhoods while at the same time preventing urban sprawl," said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman.

The brownfields projects funded in Massachusetts – in the cities of Marlborough, Somerville, Holyoke, Northampton, as well as one in Franklin County – were part of more than $14 million in brownfields grants to assess the contamination of abandoned properties that were given to 80 communities around the nation today.

"These grants will bring much needed momentum to community brownfields programs in Massachusetts, and all across New England," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England office. "Dozens of contaminated sites in the region have already been successfully restored through this program. The money we offer to the communities in our region today ensures even more successes down the road."

Earlier this year, President Bush signed bipartisan legislation that will encourage the cleanup and redevelopment of old industrial properties – cleaning up our environment, creating jobs and protecting small businesses from frivolous lawsuits. In addition, the President's fical year 2003 budget request doubled the funds available through the EPA in FY 02 – from $98 million to $200 million – to help states and communities around the country clean up and revitalize brownfields sites.

Under the EPA's Brownfields Assessment Program, communities receive funding to assess contamination at abandoned and vacant sites, and to estimate the costs of cleaning up sites for redevelopment. Communities also receive funding to establish revolving loan programs allowing them to provide low interest loans to clean up these sites. Once assessed and cleaned, these sites can be put back into productive use by the community.

"Brownfields reclamation is one of the great environmental success stories of the past decade," Whitman said. "But the story is hardly over. EPA and its partners in every state of the union are ready to write the next chapter in the brownfields story. Given the commitment of this Administration, I can guarantee you that story will have a very happy ending."

These grants bring the total amount that EPA has spend on brownfields projects in Massachusetts to date to approximately $25 million.

Funds for site assessments were given to the following Massachusetts communities:

EPA selected the city of Northampton for a $200,000 Brownfields Assessment Pilot grant. The grant will allow the city to targets five sites in the Historic Mill River Corridor, a strip of land that passes through downtown. Target sites include a former felt manufacturing plant with above-ground hazardous substances storage tanks, a former factory facility that may have been a machine shop and is now a residential property and a former coal gasification plant.

Holyoke will receive a $200,000 grant for a Brownfields Assessment Pilot project. The city will also receive an additional $50,000 for assessments at brownfields properties to be used for greenspace purposes. The project will encourage the reuse of two important parcels as greenspace, encourage the redevelopment of two underused properties, eliminate potential health and safety issues and improve the quality of life in the neighborhoods surrounding brownfields. The city plans to accomplish this objective by fully assessing each of the parcels and determining the concentrations and distributions of contaminants. Armed with this information, the city can determine the cleanup costs and the ways to return these properties to productive use.

The Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) is the regional planning agency for Franklin County which encompasses 26 towns and 71,535 people. FRCOG will receive a $200,000 Brownfields Assessment Pilot grant.

The grant money will target a number of former mill and paper manufacturing facilities in the county for brownfields assessments because Franklin County towns that once thrived on manufacturing are now faced with vacant, industrial properties with suspected contamination in areas adjacent to low income neighborhoods.

FRCOG's overall objective is to apply a regional approach to the identification, assessment, cleanup and reuse of brownfields in county communities that lack the capacity to undertake such programs alone. FRCOG will inventory potential brownfields, develop site selection criteria, involve municipalities and residents in impacted neighborhoods, assess targeted sites and plan cleanups.

Activities planned as part of this project include:

Funds for supplemental site assessments of ongoing projects were given to the following Massachusetts communities:

The city of Marlborough will receive $150,000 in supplemental assistance for its Brownfields Assessment Demonstration Pilot project. In recent years, redevelopment of brownfields has been a key element in the city's revitalization efforts. The original grant money was used for assessments at four properties and initial testing revealed some contamination at three sites, but further testing is required. Marlborough will use supplemental funding to complete site testing and cleanup planning for the three sites, which are located in the heart of the city — the Old Train Depot site, Seymour Oil Storage site, and Frye Shoe Manufacturing Company site.

The city of Somerville will receive $150,000 in supplemental assistance to expand on the original brownfield pilot project which took a private-sector oriented approach focusing on economic reuses to include residential and open space brownfields redevelopment projects. The supplemental assistance will be used to conduct assessments at the site of a proposed day-care facility and three additional sites. The city expects to support a residential development of between three and 10 housing units at one site, commercial development creating between ten and twenty jobs at another site, and an acre of open space at a third site. Supplemental funds also will be used to complete a major upgrade to the city's inventory of known brownfields.

Activities planned as part of this project include:

    • Updating the citywide inventory of brownfields sites;
    • Conducting environmental site testing and redevelopment planning on four selected sites; and
For more information, visit the following EPA Web sites:

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