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Burlington Reaps $25K EPA Grant for Brownfields Sustainability Project, Re-development of Former Coal Plant

Release Date: 09/04/2008
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918_1017

(Boston, Mass. – Sept. 4, 2008) – The U.S. EPA has recently awarded $25,000 along with a pledge to provide technical assistance to the Burlington Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO) and the Moran Center Project.

The Moran Center project will renovate a former coal-fired electric plant into an ecologically sound community recreational center redesigned to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. Current plans for the Moran project include various year round recreational and educational activities, improved access to Lake Champlain, expansion of the downtown Waterfront park and restoration of nearby wetlands.

Through EPA’s Brownfields Program, states, municipalities and other stakeholders are able to work together to assess, cleanup and sustainably redevelop and prevent risks associated with “brownfields” - a term given to buildings and properties where redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence or anticipated presence of hazardous substances or pollutants.

“Environmental sustainability represents the essence of the Brownfields program,” stated Robert Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “What were once possibly dangerous, or blighted buildings and properties have strong potential to become attractive and inspiring community centers, these grants help Brownfields properties realize that potential.”

The Brownfields sustainability pilots are the newest version of grants available under this program. In addition to providing the necessary start-up funding for projects, EPA also provides technical assistance to help communities achieve environmentally friendly re-development. Throughout the United States, EPA is currently providing this funding and technical assistance to 16 Brownfields Sustainability pilot projects.

The Burlington Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO) in Burlington is managing the Moran Center Project at the Waterfront Park. The plant is located in the north end of Burlington’s downtown waterfront and has been a focal point for eco-friendly redevelopment since it was decommissioned in 1986.

"The selection of the Moran Center as one of just 16 projects nationally is a demonstration of Burlington’s vitality, the success of the City’s Brownfields program, and the potential of the Moran project to be a model of sustainable redevelopment,” said Mayor Bob Kiss of Burlington. “These new resources through the EPA will help us further assess Moran's potential for environmental sustainability and increase our capacity to achieve a model result."

It is expected that the redeveloped complex will create a host of year activities, possibly including the first indoor ice climbing experience in the United States, a first rate indoor rock climbing center and an aerial adventure course. In addition to the recreational potential, the project is also expected to create about 500 construction jobs and 80 permanent jobs after renovation is complete.

Current environmental concerns at this site include the presence of residual arsenic and PAHs, both from the storage and burning of coal during its period of operation. Lead paint and asbestos are also present due to the timing of its original construction. An underground petroleum storage tank next to the building was removed in the 1990s but there is evidence of remaining petroleum pollution near one groundwater monitoring well along with signs of VOCs, possibly from the use of solvent cleaners for maintenance of machinery within the plant.

In addition to a thorough site cleanup the building renovations will undergo a comprehensive “green building plan,” which aims for a minimum of a Silver LEED certification with green roof technologies, renewable energy use, re-naturalization of nearby wetlands and other conservation goals. A pivotal element of this project includes innovative, on-site storm water management and filtration that will serve as a visible and interactive opportunity for public education on storm water issues.

In January of 2002, President Bush signed the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act which increased funding, expanded authority and provided liability protection to help communities revitalize brownfields. EPA has since provided grants, technical assistance and training to support these efforts. The Moran Center sustainability pilot will help to demonstrate how brownfields are an opportunity to achieve sustainable and beneficial results for communities.

More information:

EPA Brownfields Program: www.epa.gov/brownfields

EPA completed or ongoing brownfields projects in New England: www.epa.gov/region1/brownfields