DEM Awards $1.3 Million to Redevelop Brownfields

By ecoRI News staff

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) recently awarded $1.3 million in matching grants under the Brownfields Remediation and Economic Development Fund. Nine projects, in six communities, received funding to clean up contaminated property and promote redevelopment, particularly along the state’s urban corridor.

According to grantee estimates, the grants support nearly 1,000 new jobs.

“This news is good for Rhode Islanders, good for the environment, and good for business,” Gov. Gina Raimondo wrote in a Dec. 16 prepared statement. “Many of the brownfields in Rhode Island sit on valuable real estate. Investing in their cleanup and redevelopment pays huge dividends for our state by accelerating economic growth, creating jobs, and promoting healthier, more vibrant neighborhoods and city centers. These projects are a great example of how government, community groups, and private industry can work together to move our state forward.” 
Redevelopment of brownfields — vestiges of Rhode Island’s industrial heritage — can be complicated by the presence or potential presence of environmental contamination. The Brownfields Remediation and Economic Development Fund helps communities and private organizations accelerate clean-up efforts and promote smart growth, according to DEM.

Earlier this year 14 projects, funded under an earlier $3.7 million grant round, began work on 98 acres of brownfields. The grants leveraged some $418 million in additional investment in these projects and support more than 2,700 jobs, according to DEM. Since 1995, the state agency says some 770 brownfields sites, spanning 5,500 acres, have been cleaned up with DEM assistance.

“We are pleased to announce these awards and continue our work to transform brownfields into productive spaces that benefit our state and families,” DEM director Janet Coit wrote in the prepared statement. “Decades of effort have gone into improving the health of our lands and waters, and we are making good progress. But the work is far from over. There are hundreds of brownfields across Rhode Island. Continuing to invest in their cleanup is critical. It strengthens our resilience, supports our quality of life, and helps attract people and businesses to locate here.”

Grants for site preparation and site redevelopment were awarded. Site preparation grants support data gathering and analysis and/or development of a clean-up plan for a known brownfield. Site redevelopment grants support both development and remediation for sites with approved clean-up plans.

Here is the list of the site preparation grant recipients:

Pontiac Mills ($100,000)
334 Knight St., Warwick

Farm Fresh ($71,720)
4 Sims Ave., Providence

Here is the list of redevelopment grant recipients:

Parcel 8 I-195 ($250,000)
45 Pike St., Providence

Trinity 60 King ($250,000)
60 King St., Providence

Bay Spring ($200,000)
90 Bay Spring Ave., Barrington

Georgiaville Village ($200,000)
29 Whipple Ave., Smithfield

Central Falls Landing ($100,000)
1420 Broad St., Central Falls

Chestnut Commons ($100,000)
I-195 Parcel 30, Providence
East Street Park ($40,000)
East Street, Pawtucket

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. Five million dollars in brownfield funding is included in the 2016 Green Economy Bond passed last month.