EPA announces $660K to clean up and reuse brownfields

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EPA announces $660K to clean up and reuse brownfields

Thu, 06/11/2020 - 1:10pm -- tim

Funds are part of $6.9 million awarded nationwide 

Vermont Business Magazine The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is providing $6.9 million in supplemental funding for 25 current successful Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund (Revolving Loan) grantees. The Vermont recipients are among seven groups in New England selected to receive a total of $1.5 million. The RLF supplemental funds are being provided to communities that have demonstrated success in using their Revolving Loan program to clean up and redevelop brownfield sites. The funds will be used to continue their progress in reusing vacant and abandoned properties and turning them into community assets such as housing, recreation and open space, health facilities, social services, and commerce opportunities.

The recipients of Brownfields RLF funding in Vermont are the Vermont Agency of Commerce & Community Development ($300,000), the Northwest Regional Planning Commission ($180,000), and the Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission ($180,000). The supplemental funds will be used to continue their progress in reusing vacant and abandoned properties and turning them into community assets such as housing, recreation and open space, health facilities, social services, and commerce opportunities.

“EPA Brownfields funding provides a much-needed boost for economic development and job creation in Vermont, and in many of New England’s hardest hit and underserved communities,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator Dennis Deziel. “The partners we are recognizing today have been selected to receive additional funds, thanks to their proven track record of success. These groups have redevelopment projects already lined up and ready to go, putting businesses to work and transforming local communities. Covid-19 has impacted every corner of New England and these grants have never been more important to our local partners or local economies.”

The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development is receiving $300,000 to recapitalize their loan fund from which they will provide loans and subgrants to support cleanup activities. This award will increase their loan fund to $2,950,000. Grant funds will also be used to conduct community outreach activities. Potential projects include the 453 Pine Street Brownfields Economic Revitalization Alliance site in Burlington and the Fonda site located in an Opportunity Zone in St. Albans. Including prior RLF grants in the past, the agency has received more than $6 million in EPA Brownfields funding to date.

“It is great to see that the hard work of Kristie Farnham, our Brownfields Program Manager, has helped spur state-wide redevelopment projects such as the former Richmond Creamery, Putnam Block and Congress & Main and secure this additional funding allocation from EPA to continue the work of this important program,” said Lindsay Kurrle, Secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development.”

Northwest Regional Planning Commission is receiving $180,000 to recapitalize their loan fund from which they will provide loans and subgrants to support cleanup activities. This award will increase their loan fund to $1,755,000. Grant funds will also be used to conduct community outreach activities.  Potential projects include the Fonda site located in an Opportunity Zone in St. Albans and a rail trail extension in Richford. Including other grant types in the past, the commission has received more than $3.8 million in EPA Brownfields funding to date.

“NRPC is thrilled to receive an award of $180,000 from the U.S. EPA to recapitalize our Brownfields RLF.  This funding allows us to continue revitalizing communities through brownfields redevelopment and cleanup, including in St. Albans City at the former Fonda Manufacturing Plant,” said NRPC Executive Director Catherine Dimitruk.

Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission is receiving $180,000 to recapitalize their loan fund from which they will provide loans and subgrants to support cleanup activities. This award will increase their loan fund to $1,180,000. Grant funds will also be used to conduct community outreach activities. Potential projects include the Parks & Woolson Mill located in an Opportunity Zone in Springfield and Rogers Fabricare in Windsor. Including other grant types in the past, the commission has received more than $5.5 million in EPA Brownfields funding to date.

“These supplemental cleanup funds will be essential in maintaining the progress we have made on blighted Brownfield sites in our region,” said Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Thomas Kennedy. “This will allow contaminated sites in Springfield and Windsor to move beyond completed assessments into remediation and redevelopment that will result in significant job creation, as well as health and environmental benefits to the community." 

All of the communities receiving supplemental funds have census tracks designated as federal Opportunity Zones within their jurisdiction. An Opportunity Zone is an economically distressed community where new investment, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment. Most often, those who reside near these sites are low-income, minority, and disadvantaged Americans. When coupled with leveraged funds, such as other Brownfield grants or Opportunity Funds, Revolving Loans can be a powerful tool for revitalizing a community of need.

When Revolving Loans are repaid, the loan amount is returned to the fund and lent to other borrowers, providing an ongoing source of capital within a community. To date, EPA’s Revolving Loan grantees across the country have completed 759 cleanups and attracted approximately 45,000 jobs and $8.4 billion in public and private funding.

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy said: “I am proud of the work being done by Vermont communities, and especially by our Regional Planning Commissions, to bring activity back to these difficult but important sites. As Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I have been proud to support strong funding for the EPA Brownfields Program because it continues to deliver great benefit to communities in Vermont and across the country, as it has for many years.”

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said: “I am proud of Vermont’s work on brownfields remediation, which has brought contaminated properties back to productive use. This is not only good for the environment, but good for economic and community development. I am pleased that the EPA, through these awards totaling $660,000, recognizes how effectively Vermont uses federal funding for this important work. I congratulate the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, the Northwest Regional Planning Commission, and the Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission on these awards and thank them for their work to revitalize communities throughout Vermont. As a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, which has oversight of the EPA, I will continue to work to ensure the Brownfields Program receives the support it deserves.”

Congressman Peter Welch said: “Brownfield redevelopment funding is critical to help promote environmental clean-up and local economic development throughout Vermont.  I am pleased that Vermont has been awarded additional funds to improve our beautiful state and excited to see the impact that these important projects have in our communities.”

Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Peter Walke said: “Brownfields cleanups play a vital role in economic development and environmental restoration efforts across Vermont and these funds will enable local partners with demonstrated successes using Revolving Loan Fund dollars to make important progress in revitalizing properties and engaging communities.”

Background

A brownfield is a property where 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.

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. Under President Trump, over 70% of the communities selected for Brownfields grants in 2019 were located in Opportunity Zones. Brownfields grants have been shown to:

  • Increase Local Tax Revenue: A study of 48 brownfield 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 brownfield sites increased between 5% and 15% following cleanup.

As of February 2020, under the EPA Brownfields Program, 31,516 properties have been assessed and 92,047 acres of idle land have been made ready for productive use. In addition, communities have been able to use Brownfields grants to attract 160,306 jobs and more than $31 billion of public and private funding.

For more on EPA’s Brownfields Program: http://www.epa.gov/brownfields

For more on Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund Grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types-brownfields-grant-funding

For more information on Opportunity Zones: https://www.epa.gov/opportunity-zones

Source: BOSTON (June 11, 2020) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency