This small Connecticut city just won $650,000 to revitalize their economy by cleaning and reusing a huge, historic mill

On October 13, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency‘s (EPA) New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash, along with Senator Richard Blumenthal, Congressman Joe Courtney, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP), and Mayor Daniel A. Champagne highlighted the EPA’s revitalizing $650,000 investment in Vernon, Connecticut (pop. 30,000).

The Town of Vernon will receive a site-specific cleanup grant of $650,000 for the Daniels Mill at 98 East Main Street in Vernon.

EPA has worked on a number of mill sites in Vernon in the past, as we look forward to helping the town revitalize the Daniels Mill. Today’s investment of EPA Brownfields cleanup funding will jump start economic redevelopment and job creation in the community as we work to turn environmental risks into economic assets, especially in those communities with a history and legacy of being overburdened by pollution,” said Cash.

The Vernon funding is part of a greatly increased Brownfields investment in New England this year made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to revitalize communities across the country by cleaning up contaminated and blighted sites and redeveloping them for productive uses.

Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and President Biden’s leadership, EPA’s Brownfields program is making a record investment throughout New England this year,” Cash continued.

EPA’s Brownfields cleanup grants provide funding to carry out cleanup activities at a specific site owned by the recipient. Through these grants, EPA readies sites for redevelopment, leveraging jobs and other investment in the process as the sites get revitalized.

A brownfield is a property for which the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Brownfields sites often lie in proximity to overburdened and vulnerable communities where people live, work, play, and pray.

This grant from EPA to help cover cleanup costs at Daniel’s Mill is an important step toward our goal of restoring the gateway to Rockville, developing housing and commercial space and getting this historic property back on the tax rolls,” said Mayor Champagne.

This is a wonderful example of local, state and federal government working together to move a community forward. We have been putting the pieces together for what will be a transformational project for downtown Vernon. This is a spectacular complex with interesting architecture, waterfalls and the Hockanum River flowing through. Every grant we obtain moves Vernon, our region and Connecticut closer to our goal,” he added.

These funds serve to support underserved and economically disadvantaged communities in assessing and cleaning up abandoned industrial and commercial properties and are part of a historic national EPA investment in Brownfields remediation.

Today’s EPA announcement at Daniel’s Mill in the Rockville section of Vernon that $650,000 in federal funds will be released for site cleanup is a breakthrough moment for this historic section of town,” said Congressman Courtney.

This grant is the direct result of last November’s passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which turbocharged EPA with five years of consistent robust funding. Now, projects like Daniels Mill that have been languishing for years have suddenly been moved up on EPA’s list with IIJA. As a resident of Vernon who lived in Rockville for many years, I am particularly excited to see this building renovated because, like so much of Rockville, ‘it’s bones are good’!“, he continued.

Brownfields funding helps begin to address the economic, social, and environmental challenges that have burdened these communities for far too long.

The EPA’s investment in Brownfields in Vernon will have a major impact on the local economy and help transform these abandoned sites into new businesses, housing, and more. This grant is yet another example of how funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is making a big difference in our communities,” said Senator Murphy.

The new Brownfields funding announced this year includes approximately $180 million from the historic $1.5 billion investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help turn brownfield sites across the nation into hubs of economic growth and job creation, along with more than $75 million from appropriated funds.

This critical federal funding is a major investment in Vernon that will create jobs and help transform polluted land into economically viable and environmentally safe parcels that communities will use for years to come. These much-needed awards assist our communities in protecting the health of residents, incentivizing economic growth and development, and improving the quality of life for all. I am proud to support this grant and will continue fighting for future funds for Connecticut,” said Senator Blumenthal.

EPA’s Brownfields grants and assistance to Vernon this year is among other significant annual investments by EPA to help New England communities to address brownfield properties. Across the six New England states this year, EPA will be awarding over $51 million to assess or clean contaminated Brownfields sites in 42 communities.

DEEP greatly appreciates EPA’s continuing commitment to brownfields redevelopment in Connecticut,” said Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes.

DEEP is proud to continue to partner with EPA, and with cities, towns, and with non-profit and for-profit developers to facilitate cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields in large and small communities across our state. Thank you to the Biden Administration and to our Congressional delegation for helping to secure this significant funding for our state, and congratulations to the Town of Vernon. We look forward to witnessing the transformation of the Daniels Mill site into a safe, productive community asset,” she continued.

In New England, since the beginning of the Brownfields program, EPA has awarded $125 million in assessment grant funding, $122 million in revolving loan fund grants and supplemental funding and $87 million in cleanup grant funding, totaling $334 million. These grant funds have paved the way for more than $4 billion in public and private cleanup and redevelopment investment and for over 23,000 jobs in assessment, cleanup, construction and redevelopment.

Brownfield redevelopment made possible through the program includes everything from grocery stores and affordable housing to health centers, museums, greenways, and solar farms.

The Brownfields Program delivers on the Biden Administration’s Justive40 initiative, which states that at least 40 percent of the benefits of certain government programs flow to disadvantaged communities. EPA is committed to meeting and exceeding this goal.

This funding helps communities begin to address the economic, social, and environmental challenges caused by brownfields by stimulating economic opportunity and environmental revitalization in historically overburdened communities.

Photo courtesy of the City of Vernon.

Learn more about EPA’s Brownfields Program.

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