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U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY GIVES $1.1 FOR SMART GROWTH AND BROWNFIELD EFFORTS; TWO PROJECTS IN MAINE GET $140,000

Release Date: 12/16/1999
Contact Information: Amy Miller, EPA Press Office (617-918-1042) John DelVecchio, Maine State Planning Office (207-287-8058)

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.

In Maine, a Livable Communities Grant for $40,000 will be awarded to the State Planning Office for its "Home Town Maine" project, an education campaign to stem sprawl and restore neighborhoods. This project is the next phase in the state's efforts to influence development patterns based on research showing there is a market in Maine for alternatives to traditional subdivisions. The project partners will develop a prototype marketing campaign to teach people about their housing choices and the costs of those choices.

Also this week, EPA-New England announced it will perform a targeted brownfields assessment worth $100,000 for the city of Orono to assess contamination at Ayers Island, a 62-acre island on Penobscot River and former home of Stiar Textile Mill. The city is looking to rehabilitate this for continued industrial use.

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."

"We have already invested significant effort to address sprawl and to promote and restore livable communities here in Maine, said Evan D. Richert, director of the Maine State Planning Office. "With the just completed survey and analysis of recent home buyers in Maine, and with this grant to supported educating consumers, we are poised to use the most powerful tool of all - the market place - to create an alternative to sprawl: the great American neighborhood."

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.
    • Connecticut River Watershed Council to convene a growth forum on urban revitalization and sustainable agriculture in the valley between Hartford and Springfield;
    • 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.
Funds for Targeted Brownfields Assessments are also going to projects in Lowell, Holyoke, Northampton, Gloucester and Quincy, Mass., Providence, RI; Derby and Shelton, Conn.; and to Milton and Mont Vernon, NH.