EPA Grant Boosts Available Funding for Brownfield Assessment and Cleanup in Somerville
Thanks to a recent grant award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the City of Somerville now has $700,000 available to lend for assessment and cleanup of contaminated properties that can threaten environmental and public health—and can then be turned into new homes, offices, parks and more.
One of only 31 grantees selected by the EPA nationally, the City has just received $300,000 to supplement its Brownfield Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund, which offers low-cost, repayable loans to eligible nonprofits and private entities for the cleanup of potentially contaminated sites. This funding is in addition to the $400,000 grant that the EPA awarded the City last year to support brownfield assessment, with both grant awards reflecting federal recognition of the City’s robust brownfield program.
“Somerville has a successful track record of turning formerly contaminated properties that created barriers in our neighborhoods into thriving new residential centers, parks and future commercial development,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “From Maxwell’s Green on Lowell Street to the former Kiley Barrel Site in Union Square, this funding has been critical to helping us move the needle forward on the community’s goals as outlined in SomerVision: smart, transit-oriented development that creates the homes, jobs and new open space that we need. I am thankful that the EPA is recognizing our accomplishments and providing us additional funding to continue this important work.”
The City has leveraged state and federal dollars to support assessment and cleanup of highly contaminated properties, which has spurred reuse and redevelopment of sites that may have otherwise remained contaminated due to the high cost of cleanup. Other notable brownfields in Somerville assessed and/or cleaned up thanks to this type of funding include the VNA assisted living facility and health center on Lowell Street, formerly the site of a mattress factory; the Community Action Agency of Somerville’s Head Start facility at 29 Allen Street; the Allen Street Community Garden; the Founders Memorial Skating Rink at Conway Park; and Somerville Junction Park on Central Street.
Brownfields are defined as properties where the expansion, redevelopment or reuse of it may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant. Cleaning these sites is often expensive, which can pose a roadblock to reuse of the site. According to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, there are 542 known brownfield sites in Somerville and of these, 118 are open sites, meaning that they have not yet been thoroughly assessed or remediated.
Those interested in learning more or applying for brownfield funding should contact Amanda Maher, Senior Economic Development Specialist and Brownfield Program Manager, at 617-625-6600 ext. 2528 or by email at [email protected].