DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — A $200,000 grant awarded Monday by the Environmental Protection Agency to the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council will be used to identify sites that may have environmental hazards that could stymie economic growth.
“This is another important tool that we can use for economic development in Piscataquis County,” Thomas Kittredge, the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council’s executive director, who wrote the grant, said Monday. “I’m ecstatic.”
The federal brownfields hazardous substance assessment and cleanup funds will be used to assess certain locations in the county that are prime for development — such as vacant mills — to make certain there are no existing contamination issues, according Kittredge. The sites may have been avoided for development in the past because of the perception that there might be problems, he said.
“It’s only going to increase what we have to offer for businesses,” Kittredge said.
Site selection criteria will include a historical record search, eligibility for federal and state approvals, interest from a developer and current property owner, as well as findings that the site meets local plans and strategies, benefits the community, enables sustainable growth, and has a likelihood for successful redevelopment, reuse or revitalization.
“This is the start of a comprehensive program that we’ll be running,” Kittredge said.
Should any site have contamination, he said, the county could seek additional funds for the planning and cleanup.
“The goal is to have a few sites that are really close for redevelopment,” Kittredge said.
Receiving the assessment grant will give the county a competitive edge should funding be needed to clean up any contamination, he said.
“It’s the first of, hopefully, many grants to deal with the assessment and cleanups throughout the county,” Kittredge said.