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Release Date: 10/01/1996
Contact Information: Leo Kay, Press Office (617)918-4154 Bill Walsh-Rogalski, Brownfields Coordinator (617)573-9678

BOSTON -- In an effort to curtail suburban sprawl and instead promote economic growth in New England's cities, EPA Administrator Carol Browner and New England Regional Administrator John P. DeVillars today launched the New England Brownfields Initiative. This four-pronged effort includes nearly $500,000 in additional grants to New England cities and nearly $400,000 for site assessments to spur economic development in eight other New England communities.

Today's announcement brings the total amount of funds awarded in New England under EPA's Brownfields Initiative to more than $2.2 million, and adds a number of new tools to the agency's urban agenda. EPA's Brownfields Initiative is designed to promote the return of contaminated urban sites to economic use.

In addition to these grants, EPA's New England Brownfields Initiative includes:

    • Agreements between EPA and property owners to limit the liability that can impede the transfer of contaminated properties to new owners;
    • Reviews of remedies at seven Superfund sites in order to limit the cost and speed the cleanup of these sites; and,
    • EPA site assessments of abandoned polluted properties throughout New England that offer the greatest potential for beneficial economic reuse. EPA will invest $385,000 in site assessments in eight New England communities to help local authorities launch these sites for redevelopment.
"This program is a cornerstone of the Clinton Administration's efforts to help our nation's cities in ways that make economic and environmental sense. By returning abandoned industrial properties into thriving, productive centers of activities we are protecting the health of our families, the health of our communities and the health of our economy," Browner said.

"With this effort, EPA is providing potent fuel for New England's economic recovery -- and we're doing it by promoting economic activity on contaminated urban properties so we can keep our farmland and open spaces free of the developers' bulldozer," DeVillars said.

For Connecticut, today's announcement includes $290,000 in grants and services to state municipalities to speed the cleanup and economic reuse of contaminated urban sites.

New Haven and the Naugatuck Valley received Brownfields grants of $120,000 and $90,000, respectively, while Vernon and Hartford will receive EPA site assessments to determine the nature and extent of contamination at sites that the municipalities are currently eyeing for redevelopment.

"The Brownfields program is an integral piece of our urban economic revitalization program, which is improving the quality of life for New England's city residents," DeVillars added. "EPA will work hard to make sure these projects contribute to the revitalization of these abandoned properties. Here in Connecticut, EPA and our community partners will prove yet again that environmental protection and sustainable economic growth go hand in hand."

The New Haven Brownfields grant will help develop remediation plans, determine whether buildings should be demolished or renovated, and allow the city to work with local businesses and financial communities to promote redevelopment. New Haven contains about 130 acres of industrial land occupied by outmoded or abandoned factories that are known or suspected to be contaminated. A recent study showed that 22 of these properties, representing 82 acres, would be suitable for redevelopment if cleaned up.

The Naugatuck Valley grant will allow the Valley Regional Planning Agency to assess and remediate a portion of the 168 contaminated properties in the area. The agency will establish a Regional Environmental Redevelopment Agency to act as the primary brownfields broker and redevelopment facilitator for the sites.

In Vernont, an upcoming EPA site assessment will allow the town to continue studying a former sweater manufacturing facility for potential redevelopment. Several developers have expressed an interest in the site to the town, who is committed to developing the property.

In Hartford, EPA investigators will perform a site assessment at an abandoned car wash site where a local community organization wants to construct a badly needed grocery store. Most of the site is owned by the City of Hartford.

Three other New England cities, Somerville, Mass., Portland, Maine and Concord, N.H., also were selected as Brownfields projects today, bringing the total number of New England recipients to 13. Burlington, Vt.; Loring AFB, Maine; Chicopee, Mass.; Lowell, Mass.; Lawrence, Mass.; Worcester, Mass; and the State of Rhode Island received grants earlier this year. Boston and Bridgeport, Conn., round out the list of 13.

Other tools the agency is employing as part of its urban economic revitalization program include prospective purchaser agreements, remedy reviews and site assessments.

    • EPA-New England is using prospective purchaser agreements to foster development of contaminated parcels by removing the liability barriers associated with transferring the property to new owners. One such agreement is being used to foster the development of a shopping mall at the Raymark Superfund Site in Stratford, Conn.
    • Through a remedy review initiative, EPA-New England is reviewing past decisions to determine if new or better information exists that would yield a more cost effective cleanup remedy while maintaining health and environmental cleanup standards. Thus far, seven Superfund sites in New England have benefitted from updated remedy decisions, speeding the cleanup and reducing costs by more than $56 million.
    • The region is initiating a regional pilot program to conduct brownfields site assessments -- valued at more than $385,000 -- at eight municipally owned properties in an effort to promote redevelopment.