EPA Helps Cities Plan New Uses for Former Brownfield Sites

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Posted: Sunday, February 5, 2017 11:21 am | Updated: 9:45 am, Wed Feb 8, 2017.

BOSTON, Mass. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has selected the city of Providence, R.I., and the Eastern Maine Development Corporation in Busckport, Maine, to receive funding to assist with planning for cleanup and reuse of Brownfield sites as part of the Brownfields Area-Wide Planning program. Each recipient will receive $200,000 to engage their community and conduct planning activities for brownfield site reuse.

The grants will help these New England communities plan improvements such as housing, transportation options, recreation and open space, education and health facilities, social services, renewed infrastructure, increased commerce and employment opportunities.

EPA'S AWP program was modeled after New York State's Brownfields Opportunity Area Program, which was developed by communities, particularly lower income communities, to enable them to drive development that meets their needs and supports their community vision. Studies have shown that residential property values near brownfields sites that are cleaned up increased between 5 and 15 percent. Data also shows that brownfields clean ups can increase overall property values within a one-mile radius. Preliminary analysis involving 48 brownfields sites shows that an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional tax revenue was generated for local governments in a single year after cleanup.

The Eastern Maine Development Corporation will work with the community and other stakeholders to develop an area-wide plan and implementation strategy for the former Verso Paper Mill project area. The 117-acre area, located on the Penobscot River, abuts the town of Bucksport's residential and commercial center. The paper mill closed in 2014 and is currently vacant, and the project area also contains vacant buildings that once housed a tannery and a steel mill. The area-wide grant will be used to supplement ongoing planning efforts in the project area.

The city of Providence will work with the community and other stakeholders to develop an area-wide plan and implementation strategy for the Woonasquatucket River Industrial Corridor, as well as support site design and redevelopment options for the former General Electric Baseworks site. This site, the project's catalyst, high-priority site, is a former manufacturing facility that currently is vacant and contaminated. The city will use the area-wide planning process to convene stakeholders who are currently engaged in the project area to develop a cohesive vision that ties together numerous ongoing initiatives and redevelopment efforts.

SOURCE: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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