Grant to finance Providence brownfields site cleanup

The I-195 Redevelopment Commission has won a $200,000 federal brownfields grant to clean up a parcel adjacent to Johnson & Wales University’s new construction, a tract that has frontage on Friendship and Clifford streets.

The land, known as Parcel 30, is within walking distance of downtown Providence and the Jewelry District and has good access to interstate highways.

“Addressing environmental considerations on the 195 land is an important accomplishment as we ready it for development,” I-195 Commission Chairman Joe Azrack said in a statement. “The brownfields grant will be utilized for remediation and preparing the land of Parcel 30 for development and capping.”

Contamination at the site dates to the 1950s, before the construction of the original Route 195. At that time, residences, stores, and a jewelry manufacturer occupied the site. A soil analysis and investigation funded by an earlier Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management grant showed Parcel 30 was contaminated with volatile organic compounds.

In 2002, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed helped pass legislation making federal brownfields funding possible.

The brownfields program, run by the Environmental Protection Agency, provides direct funding for brownfields assessment, cleanup, revolving loans and environmental job training. The program’s administrators collaborate with other EPA programs, other federal partners, and state agencies to identify and make available resources that can be used for brownfields activities. In addition to direct brownfields funding, EPA also provides technical information on brownfields financing.

“The I-195 land has the potential to unlock significant redevelopment opportunities, and that begins with restoring sites like Parcel 30 to safe use. Not only will this federal investment help protect public health and the environment, but it will also allow the community to work in partnership to revitalize the area and strengthen the local economy,” said Reed, a member of the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees federal funding for all EPA programs.

In a statement, Governor Raimondo said, “Cleaning up this parcel of the valuable I-195 land is a critical step not only to protect our environment, but also to attract businesses and catalyze economic growth in Rhode Island.”

Jan Brodie, executive director of the I-195 Commission, commended the environmental engineering firm of Fuss & O’Neill for its help in securing the grant.

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