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EPA Awards Brownfields Redevelopment Money to Four Rhode Island Recipients; Part of $73 Million Funded Nationwide

Release Date: 06/20/2003
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1008

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced it is awarding $3.45 million to four Rhode Island recipients to help assess, clean and redevelop abandoned, contaminated parcels known as Brownfields. The funding – to the R.I. Economic Development Corp, the Trust for Public Land in Providence and the cities of Warwick and Woonsocket – is among $73 million of Brownfields funding announced today 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 Providence, Woonsocket and Warwick where redevelopment is most needed,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England Office.

“This funding is of critical importance in helping to boost sound economic development opportunities in Rhode Island,” said Governor Donald Carcieri. “The industrial history of this state has left a legacy of Brownfields sites available for potential reuse, and seizing on that potential is an important and practical way to expand our economic base. I very much appreciate EPA’s recognition of and support for this vital program.”

The funding for Rhode Island 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 $8.7 million to Rhode Island. 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.

Brownfields funds were given to the following grantees:

RI Economic Development Corporation, $3 million

EDC, along with the RI Department of Environmental Management, established a Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund in 2000 with a $1 million grant from EPA. Today’s grant will further capitalize the loan fund. In 2002, EDC issued its first loan to the YMCA of Greater Providence to clean up the former Gorham Manufacturing site in Providence for redevelopment into a state-of-the-art YMCA recreational facility that includes a gymnasium, day camp and community services. EDC then received an additional $700,000 grant and made a loan to Save the Bay, a non-profit environmental group, to clean up and redevelop a former municipal dump for an educational center at Fields Point next to Narragansett Bay. To date, EDC has received a total of $4.9 million from EPA for Brownfields work.

Trust for Public Land in Providence, $200,000

The Trust for Public Land will conduct the cleanup of 67 Melissa St. in Providence which was part of a former landfill. Once restored, the site will become part of the Woonasquatucket River Greenway project which includes a bike path and multi-use recreation trail.

City of Warwick, $150,000

This award will allow Warwick to assess petroleum-contaminated properties in the Warwick Station Intermodal facility area.

City of Woonsocket, $103,000

This award will allow Woonsocket to create an inventory of potential Brownfield properties for future site assessment and cleanup activities.

For more information, visit the following EPA Web sites:

Brownfields: www.epa.gov/NE/brownfields
Smart Growth:
www.epa.gov/NE/ra/sprawl