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FEDERAL EPA GIVES MORE THAN $1 MILLION FOR SMART GROWTH AND BROWNFIELD EFFORTS; PROJECTS TO BENEFIT MASSACHUSETTS TOTAL $370,000

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.

Four Livable Communities Grants worth $136,000 for be given to organizations in Massachusetts. The Conservation Law foundation will receive $40,000 to prepare a guidebook to help citizens use zoning to curb sprawl.

Alternatives for Community and Environment (ACE) in Roxbury will get $40,000 for its program with four other agencies to work with community residents to promote smart growth strategies for two to four sites in the Roxbury area and educate residents about the development process.

In addition, the Charles River Watershed Association will get $25,000 for its project to help the town of Holliston address future drinking water and wastewater disposal needs and develop land use plans that take in account natural capacity to meet those needs.

A Livable Communities Grant for $31,000 will also 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 targeted brownfields assessments worth $335,000 at six sites in Massachusetts. The assessments will be done at Lowell's Davidson Street Parking Lot; Holyoke's Hallmark Van Lines Site; Northampton's Old Northampton Fire Station; Gloucester Omniwave Electronics; Gloucester's Marine Railways Property and Quincy's Quarry Street Highpoint site.

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 need new tools to address old problems associated with sprawl and over-development," said Robert L. Zimmerman, Jr, executive director of the Charles River Watershed Association. "We are excited to have the opportunity to test some cutting edge ideas that link future growth to the availability of water supplies Our wok in Holliston could have implications not only for protection of the Charles River watershed but for all river systems in New England."

"Concerned about out-of-control development and its high municipal and environmental price tag, local officials often want to do the right thing but can't because of the way their zoning regulations are written," said CLF attorney Robert H. Russell. "Our new guidebook will provide a practical blueprint so that communities can bring zoning into line with their vision of their future."

"Smart Growth is needed now more than ever in our cities, as the economy booms and reinvestment returns to neighborhoods like Roxbury," said Penn Loh, executive director of ACE. "With the EPA's resources and resident involvement, we hope that today's developments contribute to a healthier and more livable environment, rather than bringing more traffic and air pollution."

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:

    • 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;
    • 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 Derby and Shelton, Conn.; Providence, RI; Orono, Maine; and to Milton and Mont Vernon, NH.