Leahy, Sanders And Welch Announce $1.35 Million In Brownfields Grants For Vermont

. . . Grants will go to four Vermont organizations to help redevelop contaminated sites across the state

Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.) announced Wednesday that four Vermont organizations will share a total of $1.35 million in Brownfields Program assessment and cleanup grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Brownfields grants allow communities to clean up contaminated properties, facilitating their redevelopment and reuse and improving local economies.

In a joint statement, Leahy, Sanders and Welch said:  “These sizeable grants are the latest Brownfields grants to improve Vermont communities and local economies.  All across the state, there are properties that are vacant and abandoned because of past contamination.  These funds will help assess the extent of the contamination, as a first step towards cleaning them up and making them productive again.  We will continue to work hard to ensure that the Brownfields program remains strong in Vermont and nationally, despite the current administration’s proposal to reduce funding.”  

The Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC) was awarded a $300,000 assessment grant, the Northeast Vermont Development Association was awarded a $600,000 assessment grant, the Town of Springfield was awarded a $250,000 assessment grant.

The Vermont River Conservancy was awarded $200,000 for a cleanup project in Brattleboro that will remove contaminated soils and allow the restoration of a 12-acre site as a public park on Whetstone Brook.  Restoring this property, to mitigate the effect of frequent flooding, has long been a priority for the City of Brattleboro.  Steve Libby, Director of the Vermont River Conservancy which owns the property, said: "Removing contaminated soils from the “Sawdust Alley” property in downtown Brattleboro is a crucial first step in the restoration of a 12 acre floodplain on Whetstone Brook that will alleviate flood damage to downstream properties.  The project will also provide a significant new open space area for Brattleboro residents to wander along the shoreline of Whetstone Brook and enjoy the birds and wildlife that will return to this urban setting.”

Leahy, Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, was able to ensure that the final Omnibus Appropriations Act, signed into law last month, included $80 million for Brownfields grants, an $11 million increase over the President’s request.  Sanders has authorization oversight of the Brownfields program as a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which recently voted to extended the program till 2023 and make it easier for local governments and nonprofits to more quickly clean up contaminated sites.  Welch has authorization oversight of the Brownfields program as a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

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