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FEDERAL EPA GIVES MORE THAN $1 MILLION FOR SMART GROWTH AND BROWNFIELD EFFORTS; PROJECTS TO BENEFIT CONNECTICUT ARE WORTH $181,000

Release Date: 12/16/1999
Contact Information: Amy Miller, EPA Press Office (617-918-1042)

BOSTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week announced more than $1 million in funding to help cities and towns throughout New England grow in ways that protect the quality and health of their communities.

The funding includes a total of $225,000 in Livable Communities Grants, which are being awarded for the first time this year to help seven communities and regions manage their growth. The funding also includes $785,000 for 12 Targeted Brownfields Assessments to assess contamination at vacant or underutilized properties, which the communities plan to redevelop.

A Livable Communities Grant for $31,000 will be awarded to Connecticut River Watershed for its Roundtable Growth Forum, an effort to bring farmers, entrepreneurs, municipalities, businesses, agencies and legislators in the Valley together to preserve the area's rural landscape and town centers, sustain its agricultural economy and recreational lands and revitalize the main streets and urban areas of the Connecticut River Valley.

Also this week, EPA-New England announced it will perform a targeted brownfields assessment worth $75,000 for the city of Derby to assess contamination at O'Sullivan's Island, site of former illegal dumping grounds located at the confluence of the Naugatuck and Housatonic Rivers. The city envisions rehabilitation for open space and recreational use. EPA also announced a targeted brownfields assessment worth $75,000 for the city of Shelton to assess contamination at the former Rolfite, Canal Street site, a 1.7-acre abandoned chemical manufacturing site on the banks of the Housatonic River. The city has initiated an aggressive riverfront redevelopment project that includes this area.

The Livable Communities grants have been made available as a direct result of EPA-New England's Smart Growth Conference, held last February in Boston, which was attended by more than 1,000 business, political and environmental leaders. At that time, EPA's New England Administrator John P. DeVillars recognized the importance of providing resources to towns and cities interested in managing growth.

"We are delighted to support communities throughout New England who are taking a lead in developing critical tools and methods for addressing unchecked and unplanned development," said Deputy Administrator Mindy Lubber. "Through these and other smart growth efforts, we can make New England a national model for livability in the 21st Century."

"When the Connecticut River was designated one of the our nation's 14 American Heritage Rivers by President Clinton last year, it was an exciting moment for our state," said US Rep. John Larson. "However, that designation did not include any funds for the enhancement of the river. Therefore I highly commend the Connecticut River Watershed Council for taking the initiative to address the issue of sprawl in both Connecticut and Massachusetts. Its efforts will have a real impact on the preservation of this unique natural resource."

Lubber also noted that plans by communities to reuse vacant or abandoned lots, known as brownfields, play a major role in revitalizing urban centers and protecting open spaces from sprawl.

"These grants to assess contamination and clean-up requirements for old and abandoned parcels will help communities put the land to good use in the future," Lubber said. "Communities who are actively looking for ways to renew their urban centers can count on our support and encouragement."

Other organizations that have been chosen to receive the first round of Livable Community Grants are:

    • The Conservation Law Foundation, based in Boston, for developing a guidebook to help New England towns and cities use zoning to curb sprawl;
    • Charles River Watershed Association to help the town of Holliston, Mass., assess future drinking water and wastewater disposal needs and develop related land use plans;
    • Vermont Forum on Sprawl for a project to identify best practices for new development in Chittenden County and Vermont and include them in a guidebook;
    • Alternatives for Community Environment, a Boston-based organization, to help bring together community residents to promote smart growth strategies for two to four sites in Roxbury;
    • Mad River Valley Planning District in Vermont to direct development around the Irasville area towards a growth center and relieve pressures in rural areas of Irasville;
    • Maine State Planning Office for its Home Town Maine project to stem sprawl and restore neighborhoods around the state.
Funds for Targeted Brownfields Assessments are also going to projects in Lowell, Holyoke, Northampton, Gloucester and Quincy, Mass., Providence, RI; Orono, Maine; and to Milton and Mont Vernon, NH.