Daily News

PVPC Secures $500,000 for Regional Assessment and Cleanup Plan for Polluted Parcels

SPRINGFIELD — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently issued grants to organizations across Massachusetts to assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse contaminated properties.

The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) — the state-designated regional planning agency for the 43 cities and towns of Hampden and Hampshire counties — received $500,000 to carry out environmental-assessment and remediation-planning activities for sites in the towns of Ware and South Hadley that have been identified as potentially polluted.

“It is critical to the long-term growth and sustainability of our region that we set the table for private investment in parcels that for too long have sat dormant as the result of contamination associated with our Valley’s legacy industry,” PVPC Executive Director Kimberly Robinson said. “Just as these Hampshire County sites were home to the economic engines of our region’s past, so too can they be again with the help of strategic taxpayer dollar investments, setting them up to host the private enterprises of the future.”

The EPA has granted PVPC four years to complete the program.

These contaminated properties, or so-called brownfields, are often located at the sites of former industrial activity. There are more than 4,000 brownfields sites located throughout the Pioneer Valley, many of which are home to a wide range of chemicals, including heavy metals (such as lead and arsenic), volatile organic compounds, petroleum, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Additionally, many commercial and industrial buildings were constructed with asbestos and other hazardous building materials, and most urban residences contain lead-based paint.

In Ware’s downtown historic district, priority sites for the grants include 16 East Main St. (former Boiler House) and the Millyard Building at 12 East Main St. In South Hadley, priority sites include Gaylord Street (Gaylord Mill) and 85 Main St. (South Hadley Electric Light Department).

The assessment and ultimate cleanup and reuse of brownfields will result in both economic and non-economic benefits to communities throughout the Valley, including stimulating investment from private businesses, greater job opportunities, increasing the local tax base, spurring economic activity and growth, eliminating blight, increasing community pride, creating more open space and recreational opportunities as well as public access to waterfront, and reducing the harmful health effects and potential exposures of residents to contamination.