April 7, 2008

Rhode Island to Receive $1.8 Million to Clean Up Brownfields

WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to protect the health and well being of Rhode Islanders and redevelop former industrial sites, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse today announced $1.6 million to help clean up brownfields in communities across the state. A brownfield site is property where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Woonsocket, Providence Community Health Centers, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM), Middletown, and Richmond will receive these competitive brownfields awards.

“Rhode Island’s rich industrial past contributed significantly to our state culture and economy. Brownfields are a legacy of our industrial heritage and this critical federal funding will go a long way toward revitalizing these sites in our communities and restoring them to productive use,” said Reed, a member of the appropriations subcommittee that oversees federal funding for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) programs. In 2002 Senator Reed helped pass legislation that made this federal funding possible. He also chairs the Northeast Midwest Coalition, which has made brownfield cleanup and redevelopment a priority. “Not only will this federal investment help protect the health and well being of residents and the environment, but it will generate job growth, increase surrounding property values, and strengthen the local economy.”

The Brownfields Program, administered by the EPA, empowers states, communities, and other stakeholders to work together to prevent, assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse brownfield sites.

“Brownfields grants help clean up heavily polluted former industrial sites that put our environment and public health at risk. Without proper clean-up these lands would be unusable for hundreds or even thousands of years,” said Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee. “Reclaimed brownfields can become new locations for businesses, parks and open spaces, or schools. I’m glad that Rhode Island has received this federal support to continue our work to make our state a healthier, greener environment for our families.”

The city of Woonsocket will receive $600,000 to clean up the former FDS Industries site at 138 Hamlet Avenue, the former ACS Industries site at 71 Villa Nova Street, and the former Florence Dye Works site at 168 Florence Drive. Grant funds will be used to remove and treat contaminated materials, install caps on the sites, and conduct ongoing monitoring activities. Cleanup of the sites is part of a plan underway to redevelop the area into a new educational campus. Once the sites are cleaned up, the city plans to construct two new, state-of-the-art middle schools to replace its existing one. This redevelopment project is expected to improve the city’s public school system, attract private investment to the community, and increase surrounding property values.

Providence Community Health Centers will receive $400,000 to clean up Buildings #1 and #2 and the parking lot of the Beaman and Smith Factory Complex at 20 Gordon Avenue. Grant funds will be used to remove and dispose of contaminated soil, conduct groundwater monitoring, and support community involvement activities. Once the sites are cleaned up, they will become part of a state-of-the-art urban industrial park that is expected to provide health care services, commercial and retail operations, and greenspace, as well as create 1,850 sustainable jobs for local residents. This redevelopment is expected to serve as a catalyst for broader economic development.

Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management will receive $400,000 to conduct two Phase I and Phase II environmental site assessments in a seven-community target area. These communities include Warwick, Coventry, West Warwick, Cranston, Woonsocket, Pawtucket, and Central Falls. Brownfields assessment will help the state and local communities gain information about real and perceived environmental contamina­tion at sites and leverage resources for redevelop­ment.

The town of Middletown will receive $200,000 to clean up the 33.3-acre Town Center in the Valley site located at the southeast corner of High Street and O’Neill Boulevard in central Middletown. Grant funds also will be used to conduct community involvement activities. Once it is cleaned up, the town plans to redevelop it into a neighborhood park with walking paths, picnic areas, and a wildlife habitat. Development of the park is expected to increase surrounding property values.

The town of Richmond will receive $200,000 to clean up the 0.6-acre former Knowles Mill site at 5 Railroad Street in Shannock Village. Grant funds will also be used to support community involvement activities. When the site is cleaned up, the town plans to redevelop it as a public park with a recreational area and interpretive information about the industrial and Native American histories of the site, surrounding area, and Pawcatuck River. Cleanup and redevelop­ment of the site are expected to preserve the historic landscape.


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