EPA Brownfields Funding Helps Local Communities Build Back Better and Address Environmental Justice Concerns
Vermont business Magazine Today, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that two grantees in the state of Vermont have been selected to receive $1.1 million to assess and clean up contaminated properties under the agency’s Brownfields Program. These funds will support under-served and economically disadvantaged communities in assessing and cleaning up abandoned industrial and commercial properties.
Northeastern Vermont Development Association (NVDA), in Lyndon, St Johnsbury, and Newport, will be awarded a $600,000 Assessment Coalition Grant. The town of St Johnsbury, will be awarded a $500,000 Cleanup Grant.
The Vermont grant award announcements are among 151 communities across the nation to receive 154 grant awards totaling $66.5 million in Brownfields funding through its Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup (MAC) Grants.
“Vermonters understand the importance of our downtowns, and of doing the work needed to clean up older sites and bring them back to full relevance and use. The EPA Brownfields program supports exactly this type of work, and I am proud to see Vermont again being awarded well thought-out and important projects,” said US Senator Patrick Leahy.
"Federal funding is absolutely critical for enabling Vermont to turn once-polluted sites around the state into valuable land that makes surrounding communities safer, healthier, and able to thrive. It is very good news that EPA is investing over $1 million in the Northeast Kingdom, and that part of this funding will help engage the public in the cleanup planning. I congratulate the Northeastern Vermont Development Association (NVDA), St. Johnsbury, Lyndon, Newport, and other local and state partners on these awards and thank them for their work to revitalize our towns and rural economies. 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 federal Brownfields Program receives the support and funding needed to continue this important work," said US Senator Bernie Sanders.
"These important EPA brownfields grants will help assess the cleanup needs of communities across the Northeast Kingdom and fund an important cleanup of the old St. Johnsbury Armory,” said US Congressman Peter Welch. “This money will begin the next chapter for these contaminated sites, create jobs for Vermonters, and help revitalize local downtowns in the Northeast Kingdom.”
“Congratulations to the Northeastern Vermont Development Association and the Town of St. Johnsbury for being selected for these highly competitive EPA Brownfields grants. VTDEC is proud to work with EPA to support these selectees in their endeavors to assess and clean up these contaminated properties and transform them into economic assets for their communities,” said Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Peter Walke.
“Through our Brownfields Program, EPA is delivering on the Biden Administration’s commitment to lifting up and protecting overburdened communities across America, especially communities that have experienced long periods of disinvestment and decay,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “These assessment and cleanup grants will not only support economic growth and job creation, but they will also empower communities to address the environmental, public health, and social issues associated with contaminated land.”
“These new EPA Brownfields funds are more important than ever, because the ongoing pandemic has impacted the economy and redevelopment throughout New England,” said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deborah Szaro. “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.”
EPA intends to award Brownfields grants to the following groups for sites in Vermont:
Northeastern Vermont Development Association (NVDA), Lyndon, St. Johnsbury, and Newport, Vt.: This group, who has received three previous such grants, will be awarded a $600,000 Assessment Coalition Grant, coalition partners include the Towns of Lyndon, St. Johnsbury, and the City of Newport. The EPA Brownfields Community-wide Coalition Assessment grant funds will be used to inventory and prioritize sites, conduct Phase 1 and Phase 2 environmental site assessments, and prepare cleanup and re-use plans. Grant funds will also be used to support community engagement activities, including convening stakeholder meetings and updating site fact sheets. Assessment activities will target the communities of Lyndon, St. Johnsbury, and Newport, as well as several sites in other small, rural municipalities served by the NVDA. Priority sites in Lyndon may include former commercial and industrial properties along Depot Street, the Kennametal manufacturing facility, and town garage in Lyndon. In St. Johnsbury, priority sites may include former industrial properties along Main and Bay Streets, a grain mill, railroad easements, and truck maintenance shops. In Newport, the project hopes to focus on vacant buildings along Main Street, the Lakemont Road property, railroad easements, a leaking underground storage tank site, and the Bogner Manufacturing facility. Other sites in the Village of Barton, Town of Canaan, and Town of Lunenberg may also be addressed under the grant.
"The Northeastern Vermont Development Association (NVDA) is honored to be the recipient of a FY2021 EPA Brownfields Assessment Coalition Grant award. Working with our consultant and our coalition partner municipalities of Lyndon, Newport, and St. Johnsbury and under the guidance of EPA Region 1 staff, we intend to utilize EPA Assessment funding to further the redevelopment of properties that revitalize rural communities in our 3-county region in northeast Vermont," said David Snedeker, Executive Director of the Northeastern Vermont Development Association.
St. Johnsbury, Vt.: The town, who has received one previous such grant, will be awarded a $500,000 Cleanup Grant to clean up the St. Johnsbury Armory located on Main Street, in the heart of downtown St. Johnsbury. The property was formerly used as an armory from 1916 through 1984 and is currently contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), heavy metals, and other contaminants. Grant funds also will be used to develop a community relations plan and conduct community outreach activities.
"The Town of St. Johnsbury is delighted to be chosen for a $500,000 EPA cleanup grant to remediate the Armory located at 1249 Main Street. This Armory sits within our historic Main Street and has remained vacant and blighted since 2008 despite numerous efforts to redevelop the property. Remediation and redevelopment of the Armory for reuse as a Police and Dispatch Station will address a downtown brownfield and preserve this historic building," said Chad L. Whitehead, Town Manager of St. Johnsbury.
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 $8.1 million for 18 communities to assess or clean contaminated brownfields sites.
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 $3.78 billion in public and private cleanup and redevelopment investment and for over 22,846 jobs in assessment, cleanup, construction and redevelopment.
Since its inception in 1995, EPA's Brownfields Program has provided nearly $1.76 billion in grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return them to productive reuse. This has led to significant benefits for communities across the country. For example,
To date, communities participating in the Brownfields Program have been able to attract more than $34.4 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funding after receiving Brownfields funds. This has led to over 175,500 jobs in cleanup, construction, and redevelopment.
Based on grant recipient reporting, recipients leveraged on average $20.13 for each EPA Brownfields dollar and 10.3 jobs per $100,000 of EPA Brownfield Grant funds expended on assessment, cleanup, and revolving loan fund cooperative agreements.
In addition, an academic peer-reviewed study has found that residential properties near brownfield sites increased in value by 5% to 15.2% as a result of cleanup activities.
Finally, analyzing data near 48 brownfields, EPA found an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional tax revenue for local governments in a single year after cleanup—2 to 7 times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of those brownfield sites.
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. EPAs Brownfields program has proven time and again that investing in properties like these unlocks their potential to improve the environmental, economic, and social fabric of communities.
Brownfields in New England: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-land-revitalization-region-1
The list of the fiscal year 2021 applicants selected for funding is available here:
EPA anticipates that it will award the grants once all legal and administrative requirements are satisfied by the selected recipients.
Basic Information on EPA’s Brownfields Program: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields
Types of EPA Brownfields grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types-epa-brownfield-grant-funding
Source: BOSTON – US Environmental Protection Agency 5.13.2021