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EPA Brownfields Grants Will Assist Massachusetts 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 five Massachusetts 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 Massachusetts:

  • Town of Adams, with a $200,000 grant to remove contaminants from the Hoosac Valley Coal and Grain site;
  • Central Mass. Regional Planning Commission, with a $300,000 grant for Community-wide environmental assessments in Worcester County;
  • City of North Attleborough, with a $200,000 grant to remove contaminants from the Courtois Sand and Gravel site;
  • City of Somerville, with a $300,000 grant for Community-wide environmental assessments;
  • City of Worcester, with a $800,000 Community-wide Revolving Loan Fund for Brownfields cleanups throughout the City of Worcester.

The Massachusetts 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 Massachusetts 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."

"Cleaning up contaminated properties and restoring them to productive use is a win for the environment and a win for the economy," said Commissioner Martin Suuberg of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). "MassDEP continues to partner with EPA Region 1, other state agencies, local officials and site developers to target these parcels for cleanup, turning Brownfields into economic engines of change for local communities."

The Town of Adams was selected for two brownfields cleanup grants, to address both hazardous substances ($20,000) and petroleum contamination ($180,000) at the former Hoosac Valley Coal and Grain site at 1 Cook Street. The one-acre cleanup site was formerly used as a storage and retail facility for coal, grain, hay, and wood, and functioned as a fuel distributor from the 1950s until 1982. Hoosac Valley Coal and Grain operated at the site until 2012, and the site has been vacant since. The site is contaminated with petroleum, chlorinated solvents, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, metals, and inorganic contaminants.

"The EPA cleanup grant will allow the Town to eliminate a major source of blight within a residential neighborhood," stated John Duval, Chairman, Adams Board of Selectmen, "while helping to preserve the iconic "Hoosac Valley Coal & Grain" building (grain elevator and feed store) on Cook Street, immediately adjacent to the tracks for the new "Hoosac Valley Service" tourist trains between Adams and North Adams and the popular Ashuwillticook Rail Trail."

The Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission was selected for two Brownfields assessment coalition grants for work in Worcester County. A $200,000 Community-wide hazardous substances grant will be used to conduct six "Phase I" and four "Phase II" environmental site assessments. A $100,000 Community-wide petroleum grant will be used to conduct three "Phase I" and two "Phase II" environmental site assessments. Grant funds of both types also will be used to select sites, develop three cleanup plans, and conduct community outreach activities. Assessment activities will focus on the original industrial core of Worcester County.

"This crucial support from EPA's brownfields assessment program will dramatically accelerate implementation of CMRPC's new regional brownfields plan, which identifies more than fifty key brownfields in fifteen under-resourced village centers and Worcester neighborhoods. With EPA as a partner, our member communities and other stakeholders will now be able to begin the process of repurposing long-vacant mills, creating jobs and affordable housing, and fostering livability throughout Central Massachusetts," said Janet A. Pierce, Executive Director of Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission.

The Town of North Attleborough was selected for a $200,000 grant to clean up petroleum contamination at the Courtois Sand and Gravel site located on 230 Mendon Road. The 4.2-acre site operated as a sand and gravel company from at least 1949 to the 1980s and has been vacant since then. It is contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons.

"The Town of North Attleborough is thrilled to partner with the Environmental Protection Agency in cleaning up the former Courtois Property," said North Attleborough Town Administrator Michael H. Gallagher. "The Brownfields Cleanup Grant awarded will be used to mitigate petroleum contamination that will then allow the Town to market the property, which has sat idle for 25 years.  Cleaning up this site will pave the way for redevelopment of the site into much needed affordable housing.  On behalf of the residents of the Town, our sincere thank you to the EPA for its diligence and assistance in cleaning up contaminated sites such as this across the country."

The City of Somerville was selected for a two brownfields assessment grants.  A $200,000 Community-wide hazardous substances grant will be used to conduct four "Phase I" and five "Phase II" environmental site assessments, and develop three reuse plans. A $100,000 Community-wide petroleum grant will be used to conduct five "Phase I" and two "Phase II" environmental site assessments, and develop two reuse plans. Grant funds of both types also will be used to identify and prioritize sites and support community outreach activities. The target area for these grants is Eastern Somerville.

"The EPA has been a terrific partner of the City of Somerville as we continue to strive toward the goals of SomerVision, our ambitious community master plan," said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. "These critical brownfields assessment funds will be put to work investigating the environmental conditions on sites historically home to heavy industry, and that's an important step to unlocking their potential to bring our city the jobs, housing, open space, and sustainable development our community deserves and needs."

The City of Worcester was selected for a $800,000 Brownfields revolving loan fund grant. The grant will be used to capitalize a revolving loan fund from which the City of Worcester will provide loans and subgrants to support cleanup activities for sites contaminated with hazardous substances. Grant funds also will be used to conduct community involvement activities, including hosting approximately 60 public meetings; and oversee sight cleanups. RLF activities will focus on the 01610 zip code in Worcester, which comprises the Main South, South Worcester, and Vernon Hill neighborhoods and a portion of the Canal District.

"This Revolving Loan Fund grant from the U.S. EPA Brownfields Program will provide critical funding to advance the economic development agenda of the City of Worcester. The redevelopment of brownfields properties creates employment opportunities, expands the tax base and improves the health and welfare of our community. We are grateful to the U.S. EPA for this award," said Edward M. Augustus, Jr., City Manager of the City of Worcester.

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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