05.31.17

RI Delegation Announces $925k for Remediation & Development

Central Falls, Providence, and Woonsocket to receive federal brownfield funds to cleanup & redevelop blighted properties

PROVIDENCE, RI – Today, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline announced $925,000 in federal funding to help Central Falls, Providence, and Woonsocket clean and redevelop contaminated former industrial sites.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Brownfields Program provides states and local communities with funding to safely inspect and clean up contaminated sites so that they may be used in redevelopment projects.  This round of federal funding will provide $600,000 to Woonsocket and $200,000 to Providence to help safely remediate the land and address challenges related to brownfield sites.  Additionally, Central Falls will receive $125,000 in technical assistance funding to pave the way for further environmental assessment and cleanup of contamination and help prepare sites for future revitalization projects.

ARTech Hub LLC, a subsidiary company of NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley (NWBRV), which has sought to build on a center of growth of arts and technology in Woonsocket’s center, will receive $400,000 to clean up two locations: the 0.4-acre Lot 371 and 0.3-acre Lot 387 of the former Woonsocket Rubber Mill Company site at 68 South Main Street.  Both lots were formerly used as manufacturing facilities, retail spaces, and music and art studios, and have been vacant since 2014.  They are currently contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, metals, and inorganic contaminants, all of which pose potential danger to human health.  Grant funds at both sites also will be used to construct and maintain engineering controls and conduct community outreach activities.

The Woonsocket Neighborhood Development Corporation, also a subsidiary of NWBRV, has been selected to receive $200,000 to clean up the former Island Machine Company Mill at 15 Island Place.  The 0.4-acre cleanup site was formerly used for wheel, carriage, and harness manufacturing; planing (shaping) and wood turning; and operating a tin shop.  The site is contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, heavy metals, and inorganic contaminants.  Grant funds also will be used for community outreach and further cleanup planning activities.

The City of Providence will receive $200,000 to help communities respond to local brownfields challenges as part of the EPA’s Area-Wide Planning Program, which is implemented particularly where multiple brownfield sites are in close proximity, connected by infrastructure, and have limited the economic, environmental, and social prosperity of their surroundings.  The Area-Wide Program enhances EPA's core brownfields assistance programs by providing grant funding to communities so they can perform the research needed to develop an area-wide plan and implement strategies for brownfields assessment, cleanup, and reuse to promote economic and community growth. 

The Blackstone Valley Community Health Center (CHC) of Central Falls will receive $125,000 in technical assistance funds, which will enable the community to better understand technical issues related to cleanups and key considerations for a site’s future use.

“Here’s an example of why the EPA is important to everyday Rhode Islanders.  Brownfields funding helps transform blighted property, creates jobs, and paves the way for future economic development,” said Senator Reed, a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees federal funding for all EPA programs.  In 2002, Reed helped pass the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act, making this federal funding possible.  “These funds will allow communities to revitalize neighborhoods and build toward a stronger economic future.  They also serve as another reminder of why the Trump Administration’s plans to slash the EPA’s budget could negatively impact Rhode Island and our state and nation’s public health.”

“The EPA’s Brownfields program makes important investments in our health, our economy, and our environment,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “This federal funding will restore vacant, polluted lots in Woonsocket, Central Falls, and Providence for the benefit of the community.”

“The $925,000 in Brownfield Program grants will significantly improve contaminated sites in Providence, Central Falls, and Woonsocket and invigorate their neighborhoods,” Congressman Jim Langevin said.  “Restoring brownfields has a proven track record of creating jobs by leveraging private investment to allow for reuse of blighted properties.  President Trump’s proposed EPA budget cuts are deeply troubling in part because they would hinder the remediation of brownfield sites and stifle the corresponding benefits to communities, public health, and the environment.”

“This is a transformative investment for these communities,” said Congressman Cicilline.  “These kinds of investments from the EPA help catalyze economic development in areas that were previously a threat to the health and well-being of Rhode Islanders.  Cleaning up and redeveloping Brownfields makes a tremendous amount of sense, and I am going to continue to support this program in Washington to ensure more communities across Rhode Island are able to benefit from this opportunity.”

The Trump Administration’s 2018 budget calls for cutting the EPA’s budget by 31 percent overall, including deep cuts to brownfields that is estimated to result in a 30 percent drop in grants to states.

According to the EPA, in FY 2016, federal brownfields funding made 7,354 acres nationwide ready for reuse, leveraged 9,661 jobs, and raised $1.47 billion from public and private sources, exceeding performance targets and driving further economic activity.   In a peer-reviewed study, residential property values increased 5 to 15 percent after brownfields grant cleanups.  The EPA also notes that on average through FY 2016, $16.11 was leveraged for each brownfields dollar and 8.5 jobs leveraged per $100,000 of brownfields funds expended on assessment, cleanup, and revolving loan fund cooperative agreements. 

###