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EPA Awards Brownfields Redevelopment Money to Somerville, Mass.; Part of $73 Million Funded Nationwide

Release Date: 06/26/2003
Contact Information: Alice Kaufman, EPA Community Involvement Office, 617-918-1064

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced it is awarding $200,000 to Somerville to help assess, clean and redevelop abandoned, contaminated parcels known as Brownfields. The funding is among $73 million of Brownfields grants announced last week by EPA Administrator Christie Whitman, including $11.2 million to New England alone.

“These grants will help spur the cleanup of abandoned, contaminated parcels all across New England, especially in cities like Somerville” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England Office.

This award will allow Somerville to clean up a site at 30 Allen Street that will be redeveloped into 5,265-square-foot tot-lot for the Head Start facility being built across the street. The city also plans to construct an affordable housing complex half a block away. To date, Somerville has also received $350,000 in funding from EPA to conduct assessments on Brownfield sites throughout the city and $500,000 from EPA to establish a revolving loan fund to clean up these properties.

“The redevelopment of 30 Allen Street is an important step toward the revitalization of Union Square, the city’s oldest commercial area,” said Mayor Dorothy A. Kelly Gay. “Somerville, Mass., is the densest city in New England and all land is precious, no matter how small or large. The Brownfields grant will transform this vacant brownfields to a much-needed tot-lot, turning a blighting influence into an asset for this low-income diverse neighborhood.”

The funding for this and other projects is a direct result of Brownfields legislation signed by President Bush last year. In addition to making more sites eligible for cleanup, including petroleum contaminated sites, the legislation greatly increased funding to assist nonprofit groups, municipalities, regional agencies and states in various tasks associated with restoring and revitalizing Brownfields properties, of which there are thousands across New England. The law authorizes up to $250 million in funds annually for Brownfield grants, including up to $50 million for assessment and cleanup of low-risk petroleum contaminated sites.

Under the EPA’s Brownfields Program, communities and other entities receive funding to assess contamination at abandoned and vacant sites and to estimate the costs of cleaning up sites for redevelopment. Organizations can also receive funding for cleanup grants and to establish revolving loan programs that provide low interest loans for cleanups.

Since 1995, EPA has provided more than $67 million of Brownfields assistance – for grants, site evaluations, job training and cleanup loan programs – to dozens of communities and agencies around New England, including more than $26 million to Massachusetts. The assistance has led to 630 site assessments, more than 100 cleanups and thousands of new jobs across the region.

Nationwide, Brownfields assistance has leveraged more than $4.6 billion in private investment, helped create more than 20,000 jobs and has resulted in the assessment of more than 4,000 properties. EPA estimates that every acre of reclaimed Brownfields saves 4.5 acres of greenspace and every greenspace created, on average, has doubled the value of surrounding properties.

For more information, visit the following EPA Web sites:

Brownfields: www.epa.gov/nebrownfields

Smart Growth: www.epa.gov/ne/ra/sprawl