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EPA Brownfields Grants Will Assist Maine Communities with Site Assessments and Clean-up

EPA Grants Help Return Blighted Properties to Productive Reuse and Promote Economic Redevelopment

04/25/2018
Contact Information: 
David Deegan (deegan.dave@epa.gov)
617-918-1017

BOSTON - Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that six Maine communities are among 144 communities across the United States to benefit from EPA funding for brownfield site revitalization efforts.

EPA intends to award Brownfields grants to the following groups for work in Maine:

  • Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments, with a $800,000 Revolving Loan Fund for Brownfields cleanups in Lewiston, Auburn, and surrounding communities;
  • Camden, with a $200,000 grant for cleanup efforts at the Apollo Tannery site;
  • Greater Portland Council of Governments, with $300,000 for Community-wide assessment work in Cumberland County;
  • Hancock, with $400,000 for cleanup work at the former Hancock-Ellsworth Tannery site;
  • Kennebec Valley Council of Governments, with $200,000 for community-wide assessment in Waterville and Hartland;
  • Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission, with $200,000 for community-wide assessment;
  • Portland, with $200,000 for community-wide assessment;
  • Sanford, with $300,000 for community-wide assessment;
  • Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission, with $200,000 for community-wide assessment in York, Oxford and Cumberland Counties;
  • Wiscasset, with $400,000 for cleanup of the former Mason Station Ash Ponds sites.

The Maine based grantees are among 221 grants awarded nationwide, totaling $54.3 million. The EPA Brownfields funding will provide communities with funding to assess, clean up, and redevelop underutilized properties while protecting public health and the environment.

"EPA's Brownfields Program expands the ability of communities to recycle vacant and abandoned properties for new, productive reuses, using existing infrastructure," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. "These grants leverage other public and private investments, and improve local economies through property cleanup and redevelopment."

EPA's Brownfields grants to Maine this year are another significant annual investment by EPA to help New England communities address brownfield properties. Across the six New England states this year, EPA is awarding 26 grants totaling $8.35 million, which will help up to 75 communities undertake work assessing or cleaning brownfields.

"EPA is very proud of our robust and effective Brownfields program here in New England," said Alexandra Dunn, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "EPA Brownfields funding has made a tangible and lasting difference in hundreds of communities, helping citizens and civic leaders to revitalize abandoned or underutilized properties, and return them to productive use for people to enjoy."

"Our strong success with the Brownfields program is due in large part to Maine DEP's excellent program staff who work tirelessly with potential recipients. DEP understands that the successes of this program come as a result of the solid working relationship the department has with EPA and Maine communities," said Paul Mercer, Maine Dept. of Environmental Protection Commissioner. "Assessing and cleaning up the Brownfields sites remains a top priority for DEP. My vision for the Department recognizes that a healthy environment translates to a healthy economy."

The Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments, Western Maine was selected for a $800,000 revolving loan fund grant that will be used to capitalize a revolving loan fund from which AVCOG will provide loans and subgrants to support cleanup activities for sites contaminated with hazardous substances and petroleum. Grant funds also will be used to prepare community relations plans, various reports and holding project status meetings and other community outreach. These activities will focus on the Cities of Lewiston and Auburn, and the Towns of Rumford and Wilton.

"The addition of an RLF to AVCOG's Brownfields program will result in greater positive impacts to our communities through cleanup and reuse of environmentally impacted sites throughout our region," said Amy Landry, Executive Director of Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments.

The Town of Camden was selected for a $200,000 grant to clean up the Apollo Tannery site at 116 Washington Street. The 3.5-acre cleanup site operated as a woolen mill from 1887 to 1953 and then operated as a tannery until 1999. The site was acquired by the town for back taxes in 2003. Unsafe tannery structures were removed in 2004 using a municipal bond, and the town used its 2007 EPA Cleanup Grant to clean up the most contaminated portion of the site. However, more than half of the site remains contaminated with metals and other industrial contaminants.

"For over 100 years, from 1887 to 1999, the former Apollo Tannery played a major role in Camden's economy. However, since the Town acquired this property in 2003 for the non-payment of property taxes, the site has been a source of blight and a major expense to the Town. The Town is completely behind plans to redevelop this site as a mixed recreational/commercial development. This clean up grant gives Camden the opportunity to finally move forward with these plans," said Audra Caler-Bell, Town Manager of Camden.

The Greater Portland Council of Governments was selected for two brownfields assessment grants for work in Cumberland County. A $200,000 Community-wide hazardous substances grant will be used to conduct four "Phase I" and four "Phase II" environmental site assessments, and develop three reuse plans. A $100,000 Community-wide petroleum grant will be used to conduct two "Phase I" and two 'Phase II" environmental site assessments, and develop two reuse plans. Grant funds of both types also will be used to create an inventory of sites and conduct community outreach activities, including Brownfields 101 workshops to share success stories with development and municipal officials, and outreach presentations for non-profit organizations and community groups. Assessment activities will focus on the Portland Waterfront and rural areas of Greater Portland, also known as the Portland Foodshed.

"Our region is full of former industrial properties ripe for redevelopment. This grant of $200,000 will leverage investments from the private sector to build new housing and support new jobs. Our particular focus is assessing the need for cleaning up sites along the waterfront, in rural areas, and that will support the region’s thriving food industry," said Kristina Egan, Executive Director of Greater Portland Council of Governments.

The Town of Hancock was selected for two brownfields cleanup grants. A $254,000 grant will address hazardous substances, and a $146,000 grant will address petroleum contamination at Parcels 1 and 2 of the former Hancock-Ellsworth Tannery site at 49 Tannery Road. The site was first developed as an active tannery that operated from the 1950s to the early 1970s, when it was converted to a storage facility. Storage operations at the site were abandoned in the 1990s, and the site has been vacant since. Parcel 1, a 3.6-acre lot that houses the 71,360 square-foot tannery building, is contaminated with inorganic contaminants, PCBs, metals, semi-volatile organic compounds, and chromium-impacted sludge. Parcel 2, a 13.8-acre lot that contains two former tannery treatment lagoons, is contaminated with petroleum from leaking underground and aboveground storage tanks, and volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds. Grant funds of both types also will be used to conduct community outreach activities and develop a reuse plan for the site.

"Cleaning this property up will be a great achievement for the Town of Hancock and our history," said Rick Merchant, Town Manager of Hancock.

The Kennebec Valley Council of Governments was selected for a $200,000 grant to assess hazardous substances in the City of Waterville in Kennebec County and the Town of Hartland in Somerset County. Community-wide hazardous substances grant funds will be used to conduct five "Phase I" and four "Phase II" environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to conduct community outreach activities and develop two reuse plans. Assessment activities will focus on

"We are so very grateful to the EPA for this award. This award will take our brownfields program to the next level and allow for a stronger economic impact. With this award we will be able to assist municipalities bring place back to life and no longer be a burden on the town or harmful to the environment," said Rosie Vandestine, Executive Director of Kennebec Valley Council of Governments.

The Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission was selected for a $200,000 grant for community-wide hazardous substances assessment.  The funds will be used to conduct five "Phase I" and five "Phase II" environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to develop a reuse plan and two cleanup plans, conduct community involvement activities, and maintain and update the Regional Planning Commission's site inventory. Assessment activities will target the downtown areas of Wiscasset, Waldoboro, and Damariscotta.

"We are really guided by the residents and public officials of our small coastal and inland farm and forested towns. We share the urgency to increase jobs and income for today's families, and to attract more new residents of all ages. By assessing hazardous waste sites with this grant, the LCRPC aims to strengthen downtowns (such as in Wiscasset, Waldoboro, and Damariscotta), protect marine resources in and along our productive rivers and tidal areas, and help develop abandoned sites for commercial and industrial use, affordable housing, and public recreation. Though it can be a long process for any site, the EPA Brownfield Assessment Grant is a key step in getting this started in many Lincoln County communities," said Mary Ellen Barnes, Executive Director of Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission.

The City of Portland was selected for a $200,000 grant for community-wide hazardous substances assessments that will be used to conduct six "Phase I" and four "Phase II" environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to conduct community outreach activities and develop two reuse plans. Assessment activities will focus on the Portland Waterfront, and Bayside and East Bayside neighborhoods.

"Portland is grateful to the EPA for supporting the city and its redevelopment opportunities with this new $200,000 Brownfields grant," said Jon P. Jennings, Portland City Manager. "Having these funds to use for assessment purposes provides us the necessary resources to help turn contaminated sites into new community assets."

The City of Sanford was selected for two brownfields assessment grants. A $200,000 community-wide hazardous substances grant will be used to conduct five "Phase I" and four "Phase II" environmental site assessments, and develop three reuse plans. A $100,000 community-wide petroleum grant will be used to conduct three "Phase I" and three "Phase II" environmental site assessments, and develop two reuse plans. Grant funds of both types also will be used to conduct community engagement activities.

"The City of Sanford is grateful to be awarded EPA Brownfield Assessment funds. These funds are the critical foundation that leads to the development of a plan of remediation and reuse for these past industrialized sites, such as the Mills in Sanford. The City has a successful track record of public-private partnership development for reuse of these Sites that would not likely occur without this funding and program guidance. The partnership to redevelop starts with the EPA Brownfield Program and is one of the most successful programs for redevelopment our City has utilized," said Steven R. Buck, City Manager Sanford.

The Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission was selected for a $200,000 grant for community-wide hazardous substances assessments, that will be used to conduct six "Phase I" and three "Phase II" environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to complete two cleanup plans, conduct two public meetings for each site, and support additional community outreach activities. Assessment activities will target 39-member communities in York, Oxford, and Cumberland Counties.

"The Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission (SMPDC) is enthused and gratified to receive this latest round of assessment funding. The assessment funds continue to be in very high demand within our region and have ultimately led to numerous job producing projects, the creation of both market rate and affordable housing, all while assisting in the clean- up of environmentally degraded properties. The Brownfields program in southern Maine is directly assisting in the transformation of a number of our downtowns and villages," said Paul Schumacher, Executive Director of Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission.

The Town of Wiscasset was selected for two cleanup grants totaling $400,000. Funds will be used to assist in the cleanup of hazardous substances and decommissioning of the ash ponds of the former Mason Station Ash Ponds site on Point East Drive in Wiscasset. From 1940 to 2003, the site operated intermittently as a power plant, under various owners. In 2012, the town took the four lots for back taxes. The four lots, totaling 4.5 acres, were the location of ash ponds used to treat the plant's wastewater prior to discharge. The cleanup sites are contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, inorganic contaminants, chlorinated solvents, heavy metals, and PCBs. Grant funds also will be used to conduct community outreach activities.

"The Town of Wiscasset is excited to receive the 2018 Brownfields grant. This brownfield funding will positively impact the Town of Wiscasset for years to come! The opportunity to repurpose this property will result in a boost in our local economy and spur growth and private investments in our community. Cleaning up and putting this property back into productive use will strengthen our local economy by bringing new businesses and job opportunities to our town, county and state. We appreciate the EPA's ongoing commitment to providing Wiscasset the tools to transform this contaminated site. We are grateful to Senator Susan Collins and Senator Angus King for their work to secure this important funding for the Town of Wiscasset," said Marian L. Anderson, Town Manager of Town of Wiscasset.

In New England, since the beginning of the Brownfields program, EPA has awarded 382 assessment grants totaling $110.5 million, 75 revolving loan fund grants and supplemental funding totaling $102.9 million and 290 cleanup grants totaling $71.8 million. These grant funds have paved the way for more than $2.9 billion in public and private cleanup and redevelopment investment and for over 18,100 jobs in assessment, cleanup, construction and redevelopment.

A brownfield is a property for which the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. There are estimated to be more than 450,000 brownfields in the U.S. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties increases local tax bases, facilitates job growth, utilizes existing infrastructure, takes development pressures away from undeveloped, open land, and both improves and protects the environment.

The EPA Brownfields Program targets communities that are economically disadvantaged and provides funding and assistance to transform contaminated sites into assets that can generate jobs and spur economic growth. A study analyzing 48 Brownfields sites found that an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional tax revenue was generated for local governments in a single year after cleanup. This is two-to-seven times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of these brownfield sites. Another study found that property values of homes located near brownfield sites that are cleaned up increased between 5 and 15 percent post cleanup.

Communities can use EPA Brownfields funding to leverage considerable infrastructure and other financial resources. For example, EPA's Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund can be used to address the water quality aspects of brownfield sites and the assessment and construction of drinking water infrastructure on brownfields, respectively. EPA's Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program may also serve as a potential source of long-term, low-cost supplemental financing to fund brownfield project development and implementation activities to address water quality aspects of brownfields.

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