The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday said it is giving $660,000 in supplemental funding to three existing Brownfields grantees in Maine.
The recipients are the Greater Portland Council of Governments, which is getting $180,000; the Maine Department of Economic & Community Development, $300,000; and the Southern Maine Planning & Development Commission, $180,000.
The Brownfields funds go toward rehabbing vacant and abandoned properties that are or may be contaminated and turning them into housing, recreation facilities, social services and commerce locations. The program has provided more than 5,000 jobs since the Brownfields program began in the 1990s, said Dennis Deziel, EPA New England Regional Administrator.
“At this time receiving $180,000 for cleanup funds is an important economic stimulus for our region, particularly in this tough time that we’re all going through with a pandemic,” Kristina Egan, executive director of the Greater Portland Council of Governments, said during a virtual press conference on the new funding.
She said the council has used EPA Brownfields grants to clean up Thompson’s Point, an ongoing project in an old rail yard in South Portland that is making room for more mixed-use development, including the relocation of the Children’s Museum of Maine.
“That’s an attractor from all across New England, and it’s also its own economic stimulus for our region,” she said.
She said the council has a number of strong candidate projects for the new funding, including more housing, a homeless shelter, a childcare facility, trails and greenspace at a former foundry site in Westbrook and the Portland Company in Portland. The council has received almost $3.5 million in Brownfields funding to date.
The Maine Department of Economic & Community Development, which partners with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection on the Maine Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund, will recapitalize its fund to provide loans and grants for cleanup activities, EPA said. Potential projects include the International Woolen Mill in Sanford, Bates Mill in Lewiston and Lincoln Pulp & Tissue Mill in Lincoln. The new money brings the fund total to more than $4 million.
The Southern Maine Planning & Development Commission will also recapitalize its loan fund. Potential projects include the Pepperell Mill in Biddeford. It has received $10.3 million in EPA Brownfields funding to date.
Recipients of the Brownfields funding provide low-interest loans and sub-grants for cleanup activities at Brownfields sites. When loans are repaid, the loan amount is returned into the fund and re-lent to other borrowers.