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EPA Selects Six Projects in Massachusetts to Receive $2.7 Million for Brownfields Cleanup and Assessment

EPA Brownfields Funding Helps Local Communities

05/06/2020
Contact Information: 
David Deegan (deegan.dave@epa.gov)
617-918-1017

BOSTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing that six grantees in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have been selected to receive $2.7 million to assess and clean up contaminated properties under the agency's Brownfields Program. These funds will aid under-served and economically disadvantaged communities around the state in assessing and cleaning up abandoned industrial and commercial properties. Under President Trump's Administration, EPA has delivered approximately $287 million in Brownfield grants directly to communities and nonprofits for cleanup and redevelopment, job creation, and economic development through the award of over 948 grants.

"COVID 19 has impacted the economy and redevelopment in every corner of this New England. Today's investment of EPA Brownfields assessment and cleanup funding provides a much-needed boost for economic development and job creation in many of New England's hardest hit and underserved communities," said EPA New England Regional Administrator Dennis Deziel. "Brownfields projects are always an economic catalyst, and this funding has never been more important to our local partners."

The Massachusetts based grantees are among 155 grants that will be awarded for communities and tribes totaling over $65.6 million in EPA Brownfields funding the agency's Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grant Programs. These funds will aid under-served and economically disadvantaged communities, including neighborhoods located in Opportunity Zones, in assessing and cleaning up abandoned industrial and commercial properties. An Opportunity Zone is an economically-distressed community where new investment, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment. Of the 151 total communities selected, 118 of these communities can potentially assess or clean up brownfield sites in census tracts designated in these zones. In addition, nearly 30% of the communities selected today will receive brownfields funding for the first time.

"Brownfield cleanups play a critical role in revitalizing our communities, making our environment healthier and safer for families, and opening up new opportunities for economic growth," said US Senator Elizabeth Warren. "I'm glad that Massachusetts has received these federal grants, which will help spur important cleanup efforts in communities all across the Commonwealth."

"These EPA Brownfields Grants will go a long way towards cleaning up the decades of abuse sustained by Massachusetts land. Cleaning up brownfield sites is a win-win for Massachusetts, helping to create jobs and spur economic activity while revitalizing underutilized lands," said US Senator Edward Markey.

"In Massachusetts, we've seen how environmental assessments and reuse plans funded by EPA's Brownfields grants lead to transformative economic development projects," said Commissioner Martin Suuberg of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. "These funds help communities return underutilized and contaminated property to safe and productive use."

EPA intends to award Brownfields grants to the following groups for sites in Massachusetts:

City of Chicopee will be awarded a $300,000 Assessment Grant to conduct environmental site assessments, develop cleanup plans, and support reuse planning and community outreach activities for various sites to be selected throughout the grant to develop an area-wide plan for the Willimansett neighborhood and to support community outreach activities. Assessment activities will focus on the historic industrial communities of Chicopee Center, Chicopee Falls, and Willimansett. Chicopee Falls includes a Qualified Opportunity Zone. Priority sites include a 13.5-acre former sports equipment manufacturing facility and the North Chicopee Street Corridor, both in Willimansett.

"Chicopee's Willimansett neighborhood encompasses one of the City's three historic, industrial villages that spurred the beginnings of Chicopee's economic and industrial heritage. This U.S. EPA Brownfields Assessment grant will advance Brownfields planning and assessment efforts in Willimansett to ensure that the benefits of Brownfields redevelopment as realized in Chicopee Falls and Chicopee Center are also accrued by the residents of Willimansett. With support from the U.S. EPA, the City is thrilled to expand its Brownfields program to include this first large-scale planning and assessment effort for Brownfields in Willimansett," said Chicopee Mayor John Vieau.

Town of Great Barrington will be awarded a $500,000 Cleanup Grant to clean up the Ried Cleaners site at 218 Main Street. The cleanup site operated as a dry-cleaning business until 2006. In 2008, the building was demolished, two underground storage tanks were removed, and the site currently is vacant. It is contaminated with PCE, volatile organic compounds, and inorganic contaminants. Grant funds also will be used to support community outreach activities.

"We are thrilled to receive this clean up grant for the former Ried Cleaners site," said Great Barrington Assistant Town Manager Christopher Rembold. "This grant will have important environmental, public health, and economic benefits for our community. It is the next step in our many years of work to transform a contaminated, vacant downtown property to a productive use for our community, and we are grateful for this ongoing partnership with EPA."

"Two communities in western Massachusetts will soon be seeing close to $1 million in EPA Brownfields grants," said Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means Richard E. Neal. "Chicopee and Great Barrington are the recipients of $300,000 and $500,000, respectively, to continue their work cleaning up previously contaminated sites for reuse. This is great news for both communities as they continue their downtown renaissances."

City of Lawrence will be awarded a $500,000 Brownfields Cleanup Grant to clean up Lot 2 of the Tombarello Site located at 207 Marston Street. The cleanup site was formerly a scrap metal recycling facility, and parts of the site were previously used as a soap manufacturing facility and a truck driving school. The site is contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, metals, and PCBs. Grant funds also will be used to support community outreach activities. The site is located within a Qualified Opportunity Zone.

"I want to thank the EPA, as well as the Lawrence Federal Delegation Congresswoman Trahan and Senators Markey and Warren for their commitment to investment in Lawrence," said Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera. "These EPA Brownfields funds will go a long way in transforming a blighted property into a site for economic development in the City of Lawrence."

City of Lowell will be awarded a $300,000 Assessment Grant to conduct environmental site assessments, develop cleanup plans, and support reuse planning and community outreach activities for various sites to be selected throughout the grant to develop an area-wide plan. Assessment activities will focus on Ayer's City Industrial Park, a historically mixed-use industrial and residential district. Priority sites include the Lowell Iron and Steel property and the Lowell Used Auto Parts property.

"The Environmental Protection Agency's Brownfields Program has proven to be an invaluable tool to the City of Lowell in the renewal of former industrial sites burdened by environmental contamination issues," said Lowell City Manager Eileen Donoghue. "The City's receipt of this Brownfields Assessment Grant will enable the continuation of our productive partnership with the EPA and will advance the City's revitalization efforts in the Ayer's City Industrial Park. We are grateful for the EPA's support of this high-impact, transformative project."

"I am thrilled that Lawrence and Lowell are receiving these vital environmental grants to help revitalize vacant sites and continue economic revitalization. This funding will help remove hazardous materials and support critical cleanup efforts, catalyzing our gateway cities' next decade of industrial resurgence and job creation," said Congresswoman Lori Trahan.

City of New Bedford was selected for a $800,000 Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund Grant to capitalize a revolving loan fund from which the City of New Bedford will provide loans to support cleanup activities. Revolving loan fund activities will focus on New Bedford's urban core, which contains nearly 100 brownfield sites and four Qualified Opportunity Zones that are located along New Bedford's waterfront in federally designated floodplains. Priority sites include the Revere Copper site, the Cannon Street Power Station, the Quest District, the Morse Cutting Tool site, a former textile mill at 1R Coffin Avenue, and the Payne Cutlery/Elco Dress site. Grant funds also will be used to conduct community outreach activities, including outreach to job training program participants.

"We are very pleased New Bedford has been selected for brownfield redevelopment funding in the city, which will encourage development of sites across the city. This will work in concert with the brownfields job training funding the EPA granted the City last year, and will support job creation and economic development in New Bedford. I'm grateful to Regional Administrator Deziel and the EPA for their continued partnership," said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell. In 2017, Mayor Mitchell, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Energy Committee, testified before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Environment to advocate expansion of the brownfields law to provide more funding for economic development to cities, formerly capped at $500,000.

"This commitment to the ongoing cleanup effort of New Bedford's harbor will continue to pay dividends for the city’s economic development," said Congressman Bill Keating.

City of Peabody was selected for a $300,000 Brownfields Assessment Grant to conduct environmental site assessments, develop cleanup plans, and support reuse planning and community outreach activities for various sites to be selected throughout the grant to develop an area-wide plan. The target area is the North River Corridor, which consists of a two-block area in downtown Peabody along the North River and includes six priority sites, all of which are located within Qualified Opportunity Zones.

"The need for these Brownfield funds has never been greater and we are very pleased that the EPA has supported our efforts toward revitalizing the North River corridor," said Peabody Mayor Edward Bettencourt, Jr. "These EPA funds build upon the City's momentum to leverage critically needed funding to improve resilience against flooding in the downtown, address site contamination from historic use as a tannery district, and the creation of the Riverwalk. The future Riverwalk will transform the character of the downtown community and spur economic opportunities within the Corridor", added Mayor Bettencourt.

"Peabody is going to put these funds to great use, turning polluted land into places that bring in new businesses and jobs," said US Congressman Seth Moulton. "There's a long line of communities competing for this money. The EPA's selection of Peabody is a testament to the team effort we marshaled with state and local officials to get these projects rolling."

EPA's Brownfields grants and assistance to Massachusetts this year are among other significant annual investments by EPA to help New England communities to address brownfield properties. Across the six New England states this year, EPA is awarding a total of $7.2 million for over 16 communities to assess or clean contaminated brownfields sites.

Background

In New England, since the beginning of the Brownfields program, EPA has awarded $123 million in assessment grant funding, $112 million in revolving loan fund grants and supplemental funding and $82 million in cleanup grant funding. These grant funds have paved the way for more than $3.62 billion in public and private cleanup and redevelopment investment and for over 22,600 jobs in assessment, cleanup, construction and redevelopment.

Grants awarded by EPA's Brownfields Program provide communities across the country with an opportunity to transform contaminated sites into community assets that attract jobs and achieve broader economic development outcomes, while taking advantage of existing infrastructure. For example, brownfields grants are shown to:

  • Increase Local Tax Revenue: A study of 48 brownfields sites found that an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional local tax revenue was generated 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 sites.
  • Increase Residential Property Values: Another study found that property values of homes near revitalized brownfields sites increased between 5 and 15 percent following cleanup.

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 United States. EPA's Brownfields Program began in 1995 and has provided nearly $1.6 billion in brownfield grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return blighted properties to productive reuse. To date, brownfields investments have leveraged more than $31 billion in cleanup and redevelopment. Over the years, the relatively small investment of federal funding leveraged, from both public and private sources, more than 160,000 jobs.

The next National Brownfields Training Conference will be held on April 26-30, 2021, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Offered every two years, this conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing former commercial and industrial properties. EPA co-sponsors this event with the International City/County Management Association.

More information

Brownfields in New England: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-land-revitalization-region-1

List of the FY 2020 applicants selected for funding: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2020-05/documents/fy20_arc_grants_selected_for_funding.pdf (12 pp, 640 K, About PDF)

Types of EPA Brownfields grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types-brownfields-grant-funding

Basic Information on EPA's Brownfields Program: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields

EPA's role in Opportunity Zones: https://www.epa.gov/opportunity-zones

For information on the studies related to the Brownfields Program's environmental and economic benefits: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-program-environmental-and-economic-benefits