The US Environmental Protection Agency provides direct grants to municipalities, other eligible government agencies, and non-profit organizations for brownfields assessment and cleanup. These grants are awarded through a competitive application process conducted by EPA during the fall of each year. Since the program began in 1996, more than ten New Hampshire communities and organizations have received these grants, including the cities of Concord, Nashua, Keene and Claremont; the towns of Durham and Raymond; and the Southwest Region Planning Commission, Nashua Regional Planning Commission, North Country Council, and DES Coastal Program.
In an effort to help New Hampshire grantees maximize the effectiveness of their grant dollars and the success of their efforts, DES established a policy of assigning a staff geologist or engineer to serve as a brownfields grant liaison. The liaison works closely with the grantee to provide technical assistance with implementing the grant work plan. The liaison may assist the grantee to:
- Develop a brownfields site inventory.
- Select sites for assessment.
- Understand the DES site remediation process.
- Understand and interpret environmental assessment reports prepared for sites.
- Advertise for and select an environmental consultant.
- Provide local community public outreach.
- Coordinate with other DES programs.
- Coordinate efforts with EPA.
While this program does not provide direct financial assistance to recipients, it provides important assistance that helps to ensure the success of EPA grant recipients. It also has helped DES build productive, mutually beneficial relationships with our local communities.
One success story of this program is centered in Claremont. Downtown Claremont was once home to many flourishing textile mills built in the 19th century. Largely abandoned in the 1970s, the downtown mills are being revitalized. With the help of an EPA Brownfields Assessment Grant in 2002, the city targeted this area for site investigation. The DES Brownfields Program, through its Grantee Assistance Program, assisted the city by providing technical oversight and support during the consultant selection process and subsequent scope of work for the Brownfields assessment. Work under the grant included assessments of the historic Sawtooth Mill building and the former Woven Label Mill. This cooperative state-municipal venture has helped to preserve and reuse this beautiful and historic downtown mill architecture.
If you have recently received an EPA brownfields grant and would like some assistance, please contact Rebecca Williams, P.G., Brownfields Coordinator, at (603) 271-6573 or [email protected].