EPA selects two Vermont projects to receive $800,000 for brownfields cleanup

Vermont Business Magazine Today, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing that two grantees in the state of Vermont have been selected to receive $800,000 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.

“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 Vermont 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.

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

Green Mountain Economic Development Corporation, Bethel, will be awarded a $500,000 Cleanup Grant to clean up the Valley Motor Sales site at 207 Pleasant Street in the Town of Bethel. The cleanup site was originally developed in 1929 as a Mobil Gas Station. In 1933, the property was sold and operated by two different owners as an automobile dealership until 2018. The site is contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and PCBs co-mingled with petroleum. Grant funds also will be used to conduct community outreach activities.

Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission, Springfield and Windsor, 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. Assessment activities will focus on the Town of Springfield, which contains two Qualified Opportunity Zones, and the Town of Windsor’s historic downtown area. Priority sites include the Parks and Woolson property, a vacant industrial complex, and the former Vermont Machine Tool Company.

EPA’s Brownfields grants and assistance to Vermont 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.

Green Mountain Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Robert Haynes, Jr., said: “Green Mountain Economic Development Corporation is thrilled to learn it’s application for Region 1 EPA Grant funding has been selected for Brownfields remediation of the Former Valley Motors property on Pleasant Street in Bethel, Vt. The grant award combined with capital provided by G W Plastics will enable removal of the vacant dealership structure and hazardous materials embedded in the site, for future expansion of the G W Plastics facility. This is a wonderful partnership with state and federal agencies, a key regional employer, and the Town of Bethel to continue the revitalization process along VT Rt 12 and provide additional employment in this historic Vermont community. We are most appreciative of support provided by our Congressional delegation and EPA staff.”

Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Thomas Kennedy said: “These funds couldn’t have come at a more opportune time to assist in assessing five sites in Springfield and Windsor that are either blighted with significant contamination or have strong developer interest. These funds will be a strong catalyst for the future investment at these sites and will result in significant job creation once the redevelopment has been completed.”

U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said: “It’s great news to have this cleanup grant for Bethel and for this vital assessment work in Windsor County. I have been proud to help increase funding for the EPA’s Brownfields Program in recent appropriations bills, and the Green Mountain Economic Development Corporation and the Southern Windsor County Economic Regional Planning Commission have done good and solid work in organizing this funding for their local communities. The EPA New England office runs a great Brownfields program, and I’ve appreciated working with the staff there. I thank Administrator Deziel and his staff for helping Vermont towns to restore and preserve their historic centers.”

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders said: “EPA’s Brownfields program has played a critical role in improving Vermont’s environment while also spurring on economic and community development. Across our state, EPA funding has cleaned up contaminated property and brought it back to productive use for housing, recreation, business, and other important functions. I am proud that Vermont communities have once again secured this funding, and I look forward to seeing how they put it to work. As a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works that has oversight of the EPA, I will work to ensure the Brownfields program receives the support it deserves.”

U.S. Congressman Peter Welch said: "This brownfield redevelopment funding is a win-win for Vermont, helping promote environmental clean-up and local economic development in our communities."

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.

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

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

Source: BOSTON (May 7, 2020) — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency