Nearly $5 million in EPA Brownfields grants coming to Massachusetts

Robert Cox., Jr.

On Wednesday, May 28, 2014, EPA announced that it awarded more than $17.48 million in Brownfields grants to municipalities and organizations in New England. Of those monies, $4.85 million is slotted to fund projects in Massachusetts. These monies, which are just part of a $67 million in the Brownfields monies awarded across the country through Brownfields assessment, revolving loan fund and cleanup grant programs, will help the redevelopment and reuse of contaminated properties and thereby leverage further development activities.

While this is a great news, Massachusetts is still lagging behind. It was only a year ago that the state’s Brownfields Redevelopment Fund ran out of monies. Earlier this year the Legislature approved $15 million for the state’s Brownfields Redevelopment Fund, but that is still far short of the monies that are needed to fund MassDevelopment’s Brownfields program, the program provides money for site assessment and cleanup activities. MassDevelopment has already committed the $15 million. If more money is not approved and the fund recapitalized, Brownfield’s development projects in the state will again be set back.

While Governor Patrick’s economic stimulus bill proposed setting aside $10 million for the Redevelopment fund, Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance is advocating for $45 million. With this amount of funding, Smart Growth Alliance believes the Brownfields fund will remain operational for the next five years.

For those of us in the Brownfields arena, this level of funding is a no-brainer. History shows that monies spent through the Brownfields redevelopment fund has not only cleaned up contaminated properties, but generated economic development. The failure to recapitalize the fund now would set back projects in the pipeline and impede future brownfields projects in the state. There is broad support for additional Brownfields Redevelopment funding. Let’s hope it gets addressed, and fully funded, this budget season.

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