Montachusett Regional Planning Commission awarded $300,000 Brownfields 2019 Assessment grant

Published: 6/9/2019 8:50:16 PM
Modified: 6/9/2019 8:50:15 PM

LEOMINSTER — The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has selected the Montachusett Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) for a $300,000 Community-wide Brownfields Assessment grant for hazardous substances contaminated sites. Hazardous substances grant funds will be used to inventory and prioritize sites and to conduct Phase I and Phase II environmental site assessments on sites to be determined. Grant funds also will be used to conduct community outreach activities and cleanup planning.

EPA’s Brownfields Program empowers states, communities, and other stakeholders to work together to prevent, assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse brownfields. A brownfield site is real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.

The region covered by MRPC, located in the north central area of Massachusetts, consists of 22 cities and towns and is situated in a rural setting with urban cores first developed during the industrial revolution dating back to the mid 1800s. Dominant industries were furniture fabrication, paper-making and plastics which all continued into the 20th Century. The historical dependence on manufacturing industries has left numerous brownfield sites throughout the Montachusett Region’s 22 communities and the Route 2 Corridor was historically the most densely industrialized area in the Region due to its proximity to the Nashua River to the east and the Millers River to the west. Making brownfields sites available for redevelopment in areas with existing infrastructure will increase the economic competitiveness.

Sites within the Route 2 Corridor that include the communities of Athol, Ayer, Clinton, Fitchburg, Gardner, Leominster, Shirley, and Winchendon will be prioritized.

Community-wide hazardous substances grant funds will be used to conduct approximately 10 Phase I and eight Phase II environmental site assessments on sites yet to be determined. However, if a project is important to a community in any of MRPC’s 22 member communities, assessment activities will be considered ensuring equality for the region.

MRPC’s Executive Director, Glenn Eaton, stated that in the past, ”MRPC has administered multiple successful EPA Brownfields programs; however, all grant money has been expended. Our brownfields assessment project under this grant will continue the success of our past grants to support assessment/redevelopment activities and continue to bring properties back into productive use promoting both the environment and economic development.”

John Hume, MRPC’s Planning and Development Director, will serve as project manager to administer the grant. Hume said, ”MRPC will initiate the project by preparing a Request for Proposals (RFP) to engage a Qualified Environmental Professional Firm through a competitive bid process.” MRPC will also begin to solicit Brownfield sites for nomination from local officials, community development corporations, neighborhood groups, the private sector, and other interested parties. Montachusett Region communities interested in brownfield site assessments can contact Hume at MRPC Offices, 464 Abbott Ave., Leominster, 978-345-7376 X302.

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