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Holyoke to Receive EPA Fund for Brownfields Redevelopment; Part of 80 Grants by Agency 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 $250,000 for a brownfields project in Holyoke.

"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.

In all, five brownfields projects in Massachusetts – in the cities of Marlborough, Somerville, Holyoke, Northampton, as well as one in Franklin County – received grants today totaling $950,000. They were part of more than $14 million in brownfields grants to assess the contamination of abandoned properties that were given to in 80 communities around the nation today.

"These grants will bring much needed momentum to community brownfields programs in Holyoke, 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."

Holyoke is receiving $200,000 for a Brownfields Assessment Pilot project. The city will also receive an additional $50,000 for greenspace protection.

"The city of Holyoke is very excited about this $250,000 grant from the EPA. These monies will enable the city to study and prepare a remedy for brownfield issues at potential development sites," said Holyoke Mayor Michael J. Sullivan. "We have identified four city-owned sites which can be privately developed more easily once the environmental obstacles on each property are defined."

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 rejuvenation of formerly developed properties in Holyoke will be the foundation for the city's growth and renewal in the near future," Sullivan added. "The reclamation of sites, especially within the city's industrial core, will help stimulate private investment, create new jobs and provide increased real estate property tax revenue."

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 fiscal 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 can 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," Administrator 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.

"The assistance of the federal government, through this EPA pilot program, will help Holyoke and other municipalities to reuse parcels which have been far to long ignored. These monies will not only identify problems but will also provide solutions," said Mayor Sullivan.

For more information, visit the following EPA Web sites:

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