For Immediate Release - October 28, 2011

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR MURRAY ANNOUNCES FACEMATE DEMOLITION AND MORE THAN $1.2 MILLION IN FUNDING FOR BROWNFIELD REDEVELOPMENT IN CHICOPEE

CHICOPEE - Friday, October 28, 2011 - Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray today announced the demolition of five dilapidated buildings at the former Facemate property and $1.2 million in funding to support ongoing environmental assessment and cleanup at the site and the adjacent Uniroyal property. 

In September 2010, Lt. Governor Murray selected the former Facemate and Uniroyal properties as part of the Administration's second round of the Brownfields Support Team (BST) Initiative. The BST was created in 2008 to bring together state and federal agencies to assist municipalities with the redevelopment of challenging contaminated brownfields properties.

“One of the many ways our Administration partners with cities and towns to support economic development is through our Brownfields Support Team Initiative, which has proven effective in addressing complex contaminated brownfields sites,” said Lieutenant Governor Murray. “Over the last year, we have experienced significant progress by bringing together state, local and federal agencies to assess the needs of the former Facemate and Uniroyal sites.  As we continue to support economic development in this Gateway City, our Administration looks forward to more great milestones as we work to revitalize this site.”

The funding announced today, totaling $1.2 million, includes $900,000 from MassDevelopment, $212,000 from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and $50,000 from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). Over the past few months, the redevelopment project has also received $6 million in funding, including $1 million from the US Environmental Protection Agency and $5 million in Section 108 loan funds Congressman Richard Neal announced earlier this week from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The funds will assist demolition activities and the Center’s construction.

Now known as the RiverMills at Chicopee Falls Redevelopment Project, revitalizing these brownfields sites in Chicopee will help to connect RiverMills to Chicopee Center, the city’s downtown commercial district, through the Chicopee RiverWalk, a rail-trail conversion along the Chicopee River.  The first phase of the redevelopment project is a proposed 21,000-square-foot Older Adult Community Center, slated to break ground in early summer 2012.

“Without the technical and financial support of the Brownfields Support Team, this environmental remediation would not be happening,” said Chicopee Mayor Michael D. Bissonnette. “Instead of a host of dilapidated buildings located over contaminated soil, this site will provide an economic development boost to the community in the form of temporary construction jobs and permanent full-time jobs on a property that will return to the tax rolls via mixed-use development including the City’s new Older Adult Community."

Designated by MassDevelopment as a Brownfields Priority Project, $900,000 has been awarded through the agency’s Brownfields Redevelopment Fund.  With this funding, more in-depth site characterization and mapping will be done.  As a Brownfields Priority Project, RiverMills is eligible to receive up to $2 million in Brownfields funds, of which the city has expended nearly $1 million on assessment and cleanup activities like the Facemate UST removal project.   

Recent environmental work completed at the RiverMills site includes: demolition of Uniroyal, lower-tier Buildings 1-6, removal of two remaining Uniroyal transformers, removal of three underground storage tanks from the Facemate property and the completion of Hazardous Building Materials surveys on all Facemate buildings and the Uniroyal middle-tier complex. Phase II environmental studies are also ongoing at the Facemate property. Demolition of dilapidated buildings, which includes abatement of asbestos and other hazardous building materials, is crucial to gaining access to potentially contaminated soil beneath the buildings. Further assessment and testing must be completed to determine the extent of necessary cleanup for petroleum and the various other contaminants present at the site.

“Demolishing these buildings and receiving these funds moves Chicopee closer to putting people to work in construction and future business development at the Uniroyal and Facemate sites,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones. “The Brownfields Support Team and Brownfields Redevelopment Fund continue to play a vital part in achieving the twin objectives of environmental and economic development.”

MassDOT has also allocated $212,000 in funding towards the design of the Chicopee RiverWalk project, a rail-trail that will extend on a portion of the property. MassDOT has also programmed an additional $1.4 million for the rail-trail’s construction in its 2013 Transportation Improvement Program. The rail-trail project will further enhance this redevelopment by connecting the site with the downtown commercial district. 

“MassDOT is pleased to participate in projects that promote smart growth,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey. “In addition to access to transit services provided by Pioneer Valley Transit Authority, the Chicopee RiverWalk project will make the site more attractive for development by providing the transportation options of walking and bicycling and connecting the site to the downtown commercial district.”

As part of the brownfields cleanup for these sites, MassDEP will provide $50,000 through an EPA Coalition Assessment Grant to help fund pre-demolition assessment of hazardous building materials within the uninspected buildings at Uniroyal. EPA conducted cleanup in the past at the Facemate site in 2004-2005, costing roughly $1 million. In the past year, EPA Brownfields and removal staff were instrumental in helping to resolve a lien to enable the site to be eligible to receive federal Brownfields funding in the future.

“These state and federal awards will help to advance the cleanup of this site, which for too long has languished, as this property was abandoned and fell into disrepair,” said MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell. “MassDEP’s commitment of $50,000 will fund critical assessment work that will provide a roadmap for responsible redevelopment and enables future work to be done in a manner that is protective of the environment and the public health.” 

“Cleaning and restoring Brownfield properties is a proven economic engine that helps communities to strengthen their economic foundation,” said Ira Leighton, Deputy Regional Administrator of EPA New England’s office. “EPA has invested over $1 million in this Chicopee site and continues to provide financial, legal, and technical assistance to assist the community. Cleaning and revitalizing contaminated sites helps create jobs, provides a solid foundation for a community to create new businesses and neighborhood centers, while making our environment cleaner and the community healthier.”

About the Brownfields Support Team (BST) Initiative:

The BST model emphasizes interagency collaboration with municipalities to solve problems impeding the redevelopment of contaminated properties. BST agencies include MassDEP, MassDOT, the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, and MassDevelopment. Other state and federal agencies, including the Office of the Attorney General, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provide assistance. The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) has also partnered with the various municipal, state, and federal agencies on the BST Chicopee project.

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