SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The City of Springfield has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the community-wide Brownfields Assessment Grant program.
Mayor Domenic Sarno and Chief Development Officer (CDO) Tim Sheehan announced Thursday, the grant will be used to assess and test potentially contaminated properties throughout the city, paving the way for their redevelopment.
“We are grateful to the EPA for their ongoing support of our efforts in Springfield, and we would like to acknowledge the assistance of Congressman Richard Neal in securing this grant,” said Mayor Sarno. “Brownfields funding is crucial for communities like ours to transform vacant and abandoned properties, and we will make effective use of this funding as we continue revitalizing our neighborhoods.”
The community-wide Brownfields Assessment Grant program is highly competitive, and the application submitted by the city’s Office of Planning & Economic Development (OPED) scored exceptionally well, resulting in the maximum award in the assessment category. The grant application was meticulously compiled by Project Manager Wilson Darbin, with support from Deputy Director Brian Connors.
“OPED staff presented a compelling application, and together with our neighborhoods, we will identify priority sites for assessment,” stated Tim Sheehan. “Addressing neglected properties is crucial to our city’s public health and economic development objectives.”
As part of President Biden’s ‘Investing in America Agenda’, the EPA recently announced over $315 million to expedite the assessment and cleanup of Brownfield sites across the country while promoting environmental justice. In this round of funding, 262 communities, including Springfield, were selected to receive a total of more than $215 million in competitive EPA Brownfields grants through various programs, such as the Multipurpose, Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup (MARC) Grant programs.
Springfield’s impressive track record in the Brownfields program, including the recognition of winning the EPA Phoenix Award for Best Brownfields Project in the nation for the 2018 Union Station redevelopment, played a significant role in securing the grant. The city established its own Brownfields program in 1995 and became one of the first EPA Brownfields pilot communities in 1998. Since then, Springfield has successfully authored and administrated several grants of this nature.
The EPA’s Brownfields Program aims to enhance communities’ ability to repurpose vacant and abandoned properties for new and productive uses. The investments will provide communities with the necessary funding to assess, clean up, and redevelop contaminated properties, boosting local economies, generating jobs, and safeguarding public health and the environment.
Studies have demonstrated that residential property values near remediated Brownfields sites have increased by 5 to 15 percent. Data also reveals that cleanup efforts can elevate overall property values within a one-mile radius.
The grant funding is anticipated to be contracted later this summer, with the utilization of funds commencing in the fall. The city will have up to four years to fully utilize the grant award.