Leahy, Sanders and Welch Announce $700,000 In Brownfields Grants For Southern Vermont

Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Peter Welch announced Thursday that three southern Vermont organizations will share a total of $700,000 in Brownfields Program assessment and cleanup grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Brownfields grants allow communities to assess and clean up contaminated properties to facilitate their redevelopment and reuse.

In a joint statement, Leahy, Sanders and Welch said:  “EPA Brownfield assessment and cleanup grants have been extremely important to Vermont communities from Burlington to Brattleboro, allowing the reuse of older industrial sites and revitalization of our historic town and city centers.  Vermonters’ commitments to environmental quality and community development have put us at the forefront of brownfields redevelopment nationally, and we will do everything possible to see that this important EPA program continues in future years.”

Nationally, the EPA's Brownfields Program has leveraged $18 of private investment for every $1 through the program, which can raise property values and encourage investment.

“This is the kind of economic development program we need more of in Vermont and across the country.  Unfortunately, the Trump budget targets this program, just as they have targeted other environmental and clean air and clean water initiatives.  We will fight these shortsighted cuts,” the delegation said.

Brownfield assessment and cleanup grants from the EPA are a proven way to revitalize communities, having been used to redevelop the site of what is now City Market in Burlington.  Despite this, the Trump administration’s fiscal year 2018 budget calls for steep cut in EPA funds.  Leahy is the Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which handles the Senate’s work in writing the 12 annual federal appropriations bills that fund the federal government.

The Brattleboro Museum and Art Center has been granted $200,000 for cleanup of 11 Arch Street, on the Connecticut River.  The contaminated property was previously an electrical generating station as well as a machine shop and, at one time, a grist mill.  Clean up of this site will allow it to become part of a larger mixed use redevelopment project in downtown Brattleboro.  “This grant will enable the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center to begin the process of transforming a neglected, contaminated property in the heart of downtown Brattleboro into a valuable community asset,” said Danny Lichtenfeld, the museum’s director. “Thanks to the EPA and our congressional delegation, what is now a boarded-up eyesore will soon become a thriving hub of cultural and economic activity."

Bellows Falls Area Development Corporation (BFADC) has been awarded $200,000 to clean up the former Robertson Paper Mill site in Bellows Falls.  This site also has a long industrial history, having also been used as a foundry and machine shop.  With the help of these federal funds the structures on the site will be demolished and the property restored in order to allow it to be marketed for a new use.  Emmett S. Dunbar, Development Director for the Town of Rockingham said: “The BFADC is very excited about the $200,000 EPA Brownfield Grant being awarded to clean up the Robertson Paper Mill in Rockingham.  This is essential to the environmental and economic sustainability of our Designated Historic Downtown district.  Once completed this remediation and reuse project will create a fresh palate for thoughtful mixed-use development in the existing industrially zoned area within the village.  Many dedicated people in the town have worked for over a decade to revitalize this site in our community, and BFADC thanks all of you.”  Proceeds from the redevelopment will help BFADC to capitalize its revolving loan fund to support future projects.

The Bennington County Regional Commission has been awarded two brownfields assessment grants totaling $300,000.  The funds will be used to complete environmental site assessments and prepare cleanup plans for Bennington’s state designated Growth Center, and to support community outreach.

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