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Monday, December 28, 2015

Westerly toxic waste site gets funding for development

Funded projects promote economic growth, create jobs, and revitalize communities

EDITOR’S NOTE: One of the federal EPA’s strategies for dealing with former toxic waste sites is to find ways to re-purpose those sites for commercial use. The idea is to make the land productive again, but not expose people to toxic hazards (such as one former, discredited practice which was to build homes on them). Most municipalities welcome this but Charlestown does not.

Even though Charlestown has several suitable toxic sites, such as the one in Shannock used by former owners of the Kenyon Mills as a toxic disposal site. But when former Town Administrator Bill DiLibero looked into the possibility of securing funding to turn that site into a renewable energy project, just that initial consideration ended up on the list of reasons why the town, dominated by the Charlestown Citizens Alliance, forced him to resign. Read CCA leader Ruth Platner’s attack HERE.

 PROVIDENCE - As part of a continued focus on economic growth and putting people back to work in Rhode Island, Governor Raimondo joined the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) to announce the award of $3.7 million in matching grants under the new Brownfields Remediation and Economic Development Fund. 

Fourteen projects, spread across the state, will be funded in an effort to clean up contaminated property and promote redevelopment - particularly along the state's urban corridor. According to grantee estimates, these awards will support more than 2,700 jobs.

"Redeveloping brownfields is a win all around for Rhode Island," said Governor Raimondo. "We're cleaning up blighted properties, creating jobs, opening up valuable real estate, and promoting public health. These projects are seeds that will bear fruit for our economy and environment for years to come, and they are good examples of how we can work together to rebuild Rhode Island and accelerate economic growth."

Expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of brownfields - which are vestiges of Rhode Island's industrial heritage - may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of environmental contamination. This grant program, which helps accelerate redevelopment and supports smart growth, provides critical resources to facilitate the return of these sites to productive use.

"We are thrilled to announce these awards and support so many worthy projects across the state," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "Decades of effort have gone into improving the health of our lands and waters, and we've made significant progress. Cleaning up these former industrial sites is yet another critical step forward in safeguarding these precious resources and ensuring Rhode Island remains a wonderful place to visit, live, and raise a family."

Grants for both site preparation and redevelopment projects will be issued to municipalities, non-profit organizations and private entities throughout the state. Five site preparation grants, ranging in value from $23,760 to $100,000, are being awarded. The funded sites have already been identified as a brownfield based on previous site investigations but lack an approved clean-up plan. 

Grant proceeds can be used to fill gaps that exist in supporting data and/or to develop and analyze potential remedial strategies necessary to clean up and develop the site. Site preparation grant recipients include:

City of Pawtucket - $100,000
45 Division Street/School Street, Pawtucket

Evolution Mill - $23,760
65 Manchester Street, West Warwick

City of Pawtucket - Town Landing - $80,000
Taft Street, Pawtucket

Bay Spring Realty - $34,426
90 Bay Spring Avenue, Barrington

Lippitt Mill - $40,000
825 Main Street, West Warwick

In addition, nine redevelopment grants, which fund remediation as well as redevelopment, are being awarded to sites with an approved clean-up plan; they range in value from $150,000 to $712,000. Redevelopment grant recipients include:

Westerly Higher Education and Job Skills Center- $712,000
17 Canal Street, Westerly

South Street Landing - $496,650
350 Eddy Street | 11 & 15 Point Street | 342 Eddy Street, Providence

Blackstone Pawtucket - $295,456
59, 65, 70 Blackstone Avenue, Pawtucket

Bristol Industrial Park - $427,737
500 Wood Street, Bristol

Parcel 12 - $175,036
5 Exchange Street, Providence

Ronald McDonald House - $150,000
152 Dudley Street, Providence

East Pointe (Ocean State Steel) - $240,000
300 Bourne Avenue, East Providence

ONE New Builders/Paragon Mills - $425,000
31-39 Manton Avenue, Providence

Phillipsdale - $500,000
310 Bourne Avenue, East Providence

These grants are part of a larger statewide effort to address brownfields and spark economic growth. DEM plans an additional request for proposals in 2016 and continues to work with its partners to expand efforts to invest in underutilized sites across the state and ready them for reuse. 

It is estimated that Rhode Island has between 10,000 to 12,000 brownfields sites - many of which occupy desirable commercial and industrial space within the state's urban corridor. 

Remediation and redevelopment of these sites not only reduces the threat to public health and the environment from exposure to uncontrolled contamination, but it also creates and attracts jobs, revitalizes neighborhoods, and increases the local tax base.

Rhode Island voters approved creation of the Brownfields Remediation and Economic Development Fund with the passage of the 2014 Clean Water, Open Space, and Healthy Communities Bond. Grant funding covers up to 80 percent of a project's cost; a 20 percent match is required.

For more information on this program and other DEM programs and divisions, visit or follow us on Facebook at or via Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM).