Merrimack Valley Planning Commission to Use $1.5 Million in Fed Grants for Brownfields Cleanup

Officials say removal of the Little River dam could spur redevelopment of the Stevens Mill, described as a Brownfields site. (WHAV News photograph.)

Merrimack Valley Planning Commission Environmental Planner Cece Gerstenbacher. (Courtesy photograph.)

Cleanup of contaminated and blighted sites in the Merrimack Valley are moving ahead with $1.5 million in grants from the recently passed federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Haverhill-based Merrimack Valley Planning Commission was awarded $1 million to supplement its revolving loan program and $500,000 in Community-wide Brownfields Assessment Grants to address various sites. Cece Gerstenbacher, the Commission’s environmental planner, said the revolving fund provides loans and subgrants to carryout cleanup activities at contaminated Brownfields sites.

“The assessment grant is funds we can provide to inventory, characterize, assess, conduct planning activities, develop site-specific cleanup plans and conduct community involvement related to brownfields sites, prior to cleanup activities,” she told WHAV by email.

Grants come from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and are part of $8.1 million set aside for Massachusetts. Gerstenbacher noted the federal money doesn’t become available until October, but discussions are underway with Haverhill and Lawrence officials about how to best use the money.

“At the end of this month we, along with our consultant group Credere Associates, will present on Brownfields opportunities to town planners from our 15 communities. From there we look to schedule individual times to meet with each community and identify potential Brownfields opportunities to ensure the most efficient and impactful use of the funds,” she added.

The EPA money is geared to under-served and economically disadvantaged communities around the state in assessing and cleaning up abandoned industrial and commercial properties.

EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said Monday “EPA’s Brownfields Program breathes new life into communities by helping to turn contaminated and potentially dangerous sites into productive economic contributors. EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash added the grants will “jump start economic redevelopment and job creation in many of New England’s hardest hit and underserved communities as we work to turn environmental risks into economic assets.”

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